Undeterred by not one, but two rejections from the state that killed Centegra and Mercy health systems' plans to build new hospitals in McHenry County, both groups are moving to get their refusals overturned.
Centegra and Mercy each have requested an administrative hearing on the denials Illinois Health Facilities Planning Review Board issued on their plans in December. Centegra's preliminary hearing will be Feb. 23, while Mercy's is scheduled for March 14.
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During a preliminary hearing, hospital officials and an administrative law judge set a date for the actual hearing, hash out what will be discussed and whether there needs to be any sort of deposition or discovery, said Sabrina Miller, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Both will be held over the phone, Miller added.
By continuing the fight to build a 128-bed hospital in Huntley, Centegra is showing its steadfast commitment to the community, even in the face of rejection, said Susan Milford, Centegra's senior vice president of strategic marketing, planning and wellness.
"We believe that we met the criteria that was set by the board and think this is an opportunity for us to just have that reviewed," Milford said. "We just look forward to that review and we believe that this hospital is truly needed for our community."
Mercy officials are equally confident a judge will let them build a 70-bed hospital in Crystal Lake.
"I'm an eternal optimist and I'm convinced we can provide a compelling case," said Rich Gruber, vice president of Mercy Health System.
Mercy's other options include submitting documents to build another hospital -- a plan Mercy officials are still reviewing -- or giving up on the idea of building a new hospital entirely, Gruber said.
"We are very committed to the people of McHenry County and I think that (not building) is the least likely one to be pursued," Gruber said.
Centegra filed its appeal on Dec. 23, while Mercy submitted its on Jan. 12.
This came weeks after the state panel refused to provide certificates of need for both plans that would have allowed Centegra to build a $233 million hospital near Algonquin Road in Huntley and Mercy to construct a $115 million hospital on Three Oaks Road in Crystal Lake.
The same board made a similar decision last summer.
The December rejections stunned Centegra and Mercy officials, but its opponents were delighted at the outcome.
A coterie of hospital officials from Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington and St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, have united to mount strong defenses against Centegra and Mercy.