Trio of hospitals try to stall Centegra, Mercy plans

By Lenore Adkins
Updated 6/7/2011 6:31 PM

Three weeks before the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board is due to consider whether two hospitals can be built in McHenry County, three rival hospitals have sent a letter to the body asking it to postpone that meeting.

Centegra Health System would like to construct a 128-bed hospital in Huntley, while Mercy Health System would like to build a competing 128-bed facility in Crystal Lake -- they say the hospitals are necessary to serve new growth in the area.


Both already have had separate hearings before the review board. At those hearings, top leadership and personnel from several hospitals in the area also attended to speak in opposition to their plans.

Attorney Joe Ourth represents Sherman in Elgin, Advocate Good Shepherd in Barrington and St. Alexius in Hoffman Estates. At the hearings, the trio argued that the area already is saturated with hospitals, that Centegra and Mercy would bring nothing new to the landscape and that they would compete with existing hospitals for patients and staff.

Tuesday, Ourth sent a 13-page letter, asking that the review board defer its June 28 hearing until after the Center for Comprehensive Health Planning, a body created by legislation in 2009, compiles a detailed plan based on the area's population shifts and demographics, for example, and analyzes how the two proposed hospitals would fit. The group would forward the plan onto the health board, giving it one more thing to evaluate.

"We think this would be something the board would actually welcome," Ourth said.

Ourth acknowledges that the Center for Comprehensive Health Planning exists by law, but does not yet function.

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Meanwhile, leadership from Centegra and Mercy say the board should make its ruling based on the information is has today.

"The state review board is fully capable of making a decision on our project and we look forward to our first meeting with them at the end of the month," said Susan Milford, Centegra's senior vice president of strategic planning, in a statement.

Rich Gruber, vice president of Mercy Health System, reiterated the trio is protecting its own interests

"The action by the three hospital systems to request a delay in consideration of our hospital project was expected and is frankly a bit disingenuous," Gruber said in a prepared statement.


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