Sherman Hospital wants to build same-day surgery center

Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin wants to build a same-day ambulatory surgery center on its campus, a plan opposed by some health care providers who argue there are enough options in the area.

Supporters and detractors of the estimated $12.7 million, 15,000-square-foot center spoke at a public hearing Friday facilitated by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The board will decide, likely in late January, whether to give the green light to Sherman's center, which would provide outpatient services in general surgery, orthopedics, otolaryngology, ophthalmology and urology.

The center would serve more comfortably and at a lower cost patients who are getting outpatient surgery at the hospital, Sherman President Linda Deering said at the hearing held at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

Health care costs are rising, and it's critical to find ways to save money for providers and patients, especially Medicaid and low-income patients, said Dr. Jane Dillon of Elgin. Children especially will benefit from having surgeries in a less stressful environment with the security of the hospital's proximity, Dillon said.

But there is room for patients at other ambulatory surgical centers in the area, said Robert Vavrik, manager of strategic planning for Centegra Health System, citing utilization data from 2015. There are 28 such centers within a 45-minute drive of Sherman, with the closest one, Algonquin Road Surgery Center, less than 15 minutes away.

"It is apparent that the addition of another surgery center would be an irresponsible use of $12.7 million dollars that surely could benefit patients in other ways," Vavrik said.

Sherman's planned center is a joint venture between the hospital, 13 physician investors and Deerfield-based Surgical Care Affiliates, which has more than 200 surgical facilities across the country. The Sherman center would open in March 2019.

Modern health care is undergoing a shift from inpatient to outpatient surgery, which costs an average 45 percent less at "hundreds and sometimes thousands" of dollars saved by patients, said Angela Thompson, regional quality coordinator for Surgical Care Affiliates. Data show ambulatory surgery is as safe as in-hospital surgery and can be safer for infection control, she said.

The Sherman center would result in patient loss for other centers, said Eric Zornow, vice president of finance and treasury for Centegra Health Systems.

Sherman and Centegra, which opened a hospital in August in Huntley, are part-owners of Algonquin Road Surgery Center, where a physician on staff is an investor for the Sherman project, Zornow said. "It would only make sense that he would take his business there (to Elgin)," Zornow said.

Michael Cherny, CEO of Strategic Healthcare Associates in Oakbrook Terrace, also spoke against the plan.

Others in support were Elgin City Manager Rick Kozal, Elgin Assistant Fire Chief Bryan McMahan and representatives from the Elgin Development Group, Centro de Informacion, Greater Elgin Family Care Center, United Way of Elgin, Second Baptist Church and state Rep. Anna Moeller's office.

Sherman patient Armida Dominguez of Elgin said she's planning to have two outpatient procedures done in area centers, and would be much happier if she could have it done on campus. "Patients like me can have the best of both worlds," she said.

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