An ongoing health care battle that has pitted Centegra Health System against Sherman Health and Advocate Health Care in the past opened a new front Monday morning at public hearing in Elgin.
Instead of Elgin-based Sherman and Oak Brook- based Advocate opposing Centegra's plans for a new hospital in Huntley, Centegra is now fighting Sherman's and Advocate's plan to merge.
Advocate is the largest health system in the state, and if the merger is approved, Sherman Health would become Advocate Sherman Hospital later this year.
"Through this partnership, we will be able to deliver better health care value for the community," said Rick Jakle, chairman of Sherman Health Systems' board of directors. "Providing better health care value is not only a government mandate, it is the right thing to do for our patients. And we believe our partnership with Advocate will help us do just that."
Hospital officials and physicians from all three health systems expressed their opinions about a Sherman-Advocate merger at the hearing, which was held by the Illinois Health Facilities Services and Review Board at the request of Centegra leaders. Elgin City Councilman John Steffen also testified in support of the merger.
But Crystal Lake-based Centegra is skeptical of the proposed merger and during testimony, Centegra officials called it a "land grab," said it would duplicate existing hospital services and that money, not better patient care, is the true motivation behind the partnership.
Dr. Rebecca Standish, a strategic planning analyst with Centegra, pointed out that Sherman President and CEO Rick Floyd previously told the board that if it let Centegra build a hospital in Huntley, that the public would wind up paying for the "wasteful spending."
"Wasteful spending," Standish repeated. "Mr. Floyd's own words sum up the proposed merger between Advocate and Sherman."
Monday's hearing was attended by 29 people, 14 of whom testified. It was over in less than an hour.
In 2011 and 2012, Advocate and Sherman joined forces to campaign against Centegra's plan to build a $233 million hospital in Huntley.
The board rejected Centegra's plan twice, before approving it last year.
Sherman promptly filed a lawsuit against the review board to block the construction of the Huntley hospital. That lawsuit is still pending in court but Centegra is still on track to complete the Huntley hospital in 2016, Centegra Spokeswoman Kim Kubiak said.
The review board is scheduled to consider the merger at its May 14 meeting, which will be held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. The public has until April 24 to submit written statements expressing their opinions with the proposed merger.