06/08/2012 10:37 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2012

Children's Memorial Hospital Begins Moving Patients To New Streeterville Facility (VIDEO)

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Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital early Saturday will begin to move its patients from its Lincoln Park facility to the new Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Streeterville.

The three-mile move has been carefully mapped out after four years of planning. About 170 hospitalized children will need to be transported by ambulance between the two facilities. Some of the hospital's most fragile patients will be joined by a team of six, including a surgeon, NBC Chicago reports. The process for some patients is expected to take as long as two hours.

"When we move perhaps 170 patients, I think we'll all breathe easy when everyone's tucked in, safely in their bed at night, knowing that they'll get the best care possible that we could ever provide to them," Patrick Magoon, the hospital's CEO, told the station.

The patients have all been given stuffed bears named "Buddy" and a mission: To make sure their new friend makes it to its new home safely, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Beginning at 4 a.m. Saturday and lasting until each patient is transported successfully, Fullerton Avenue, where the ambulances are being staged, will be closed between Lincoln Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, according to the Chicago Tribune. The process is expected to take up to 18 hours.

The ambulances will travel east on Fullerton before heading south on Lake Shore Drive to the new, 225 E. Chicago, multi-million dollar facility.

The ribbons were cut Monday on the new Lurie Children's Hospital, the same day former patients and families gathered at the hospital's former site for a vigil to reflect on decades of battles fought and lives lost within the old facility's walls. Hospital chaplain Jim Manzardo dedicated a crabapple tree planted in a nearby park to honor the patients who've been cared for at the hospital since its opening in 1882.

The hospital's expansion project was funded in part by a $100 million gift in 2007 from philanthropist Ann Lurie.

HuffPost and ChicagoNow blogger Sheila Quirke, a.k.a. Mary Tyler Mom, penned a deeply moving tribute to the old hospital -- a facility she, as well as many others, will always remember as sacred ground:

Before we celebrate the inevitable progress and successes and losses that will come to Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, let us remember and honor what was. Bricks and mortar, but so much more. So very much more to so many. Sacred ground, at the intersection of Lincoln and Fullerton, amidst the bars and the condos and the college kids.