Early next year Northwest Community Hospital will open a 17-bed inpatient physical rehabilitation unit at its main Arlington Heights location, officials said.
NCH got approval for the rehab unit on Wednesday from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, according to a news release. The plan passed the board 5-2 with two members absent, at the board's meeting in downstate Normal.
The unit will have a physical and occupational therapy gym and an activity day room along with individual rooms for patients to recover and get services without leaving NCH.
"We are excited and energized to begin the work ahead of us -- knowing that this effort will serve our patients and community well," said Northwest Community Healthcare CEO Steve Scogna in the release. "The new unit will create a continuum of care for NCH patients who require inpatient rehabilitation. The rehab unit will help improve efficiencies in patient length-of-stay and result in lower readmission levels."
In 2013, NCH physicians referred more than 200 patients to inpatient rehab facilities in the area.
During a hearing on the plan earlier this month in Arlington Heights, doctors and nurses at NCH spoke of the need to keep those patients in house to avoid the stress of moving and delayed care due to transfers.
At that meeting the only opposition came from Alexian Brothers Health System and their partner, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The two have a 72-bed rehab facility in Elk Grove Village.
Officials from those two organizations said there is already an excess of number of rehab beds in the area.
A spokeswoman for NCH said that is why two members of the review board voted against the proposal. However, the other five "agreed with statistics that show that in the 30-minute travel area around Northwest Community Hospital, the ratio of existing rehabilitation beds-to-population is significantly below the statewide average."
The $3 million project will take up the entire third floor of the original building on the NCH campus, 800 W. Central Road, and will open in early 2015, officials said.