Vista Health System officials on Thursday unveiled their latest proposal to build a hospital in Lindenhurst.
If the $131 million plan progresses, it would be the first new hospital built in Lake County in nearly 40 years and the first in the northwest quadrant of the county.
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The announcement was met with cheers from Lindenhurst and Lake County officials. The company's previous attempts to build a hospital in Lindenhurst were rejected by state health officials, but local leaders are optimistic this time.
"It's very good news for us as a community," Mayor Susan Lahr said. "They've been trying for about 20 years, and we continue to be supportive of that."
Other supporters include county Commissioner Jim Newton, who said ambulance response times are too slow in the area because there isn't a hospital nearby.
"It's fantastic news," said Newton, a Lindenhurst Republican.
Vista already operates two hospitals in Waukegan and a medical complex in Lindenhurst. The hospital would be located at Vista's Lindenhurst campus, which is on Grand Avenue at Deep Lake Road.
The site has a surgery center, medical offices and an emergency center, among other services. The ER has been particularly busy, with 35 to 50 patients treated each day, Vista CEO Barbara J. Martin said.
That business "shows the need for inpatient hospital services" in Lindenhurst, Martin said. If people go to the ER and then need to be admitted to a hospital, they want it to be the same facility, she said.
Vista's plans call for a five-story building that would house a trauma center, a maternity department and nursery, five operating rooms, an intensive care unit and other features. It would wrap around the existing emergency department, which opened last year, and allow for hospital staff to easily use the equipment in the department, Martin said.
"We've always had the intent to build a hospital there," she said.
Vista submitted a certificate of need application to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board on Tuesday. That panel will decide whether the plans will become a reality.
Vista expects the panel could discuss the application in February, a company spokesman said.
That board has rejected four previous requests from Vista to build a hospital in Lindenhurst, most recently in 2009.
The planning board repeatedly explained its decisions by citing an abundance of hospital beds in Lake County.
The nearest Lake County hospital is Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. Others operate in the Barrington area, Lake Forest, Highland Park and Waukegan.
All are in southern, central or eastern parts of the county.
"There's certainly a need in that area," Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman said of the Lindenhurst plan.
Stolman and Lahr also acknowledged the project will bring construction and medical-industry jobs to the region if it's approved.
It would result in more money being spent at local businesses, too, Lahr said.
Daily Herald staff writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.