State finally approves Huntley hospital
Now that Centegra Health System has received state permission to build a hospital in Huntley, the village has taken another step toward becoming a more complete community, Trustee Pam Fender said.
"First the (I-90) interchange, now this -- Huntley's really going places," Fender said. "It's just one step closer to all of the dreams we have."
The Illinois Health Facilities Services and Review Board on Tuesday approved Centegra's plan to build a $233 million, 128-bed hospital in Huntley.
"We are thrilled by the board's decision," Centegra CEO Michael S. Eesley said in a news release. "Residents of southern McHenry County and northern Kane County need better access to hospital care, and the state recognized that. This is a great day for communities in this region that are currently underserved when it comes to health care."
Tuesday marked the third time Centegra sought permission to build the hospital after being rejected twice, most recently last December, by a 4-4 vote.
The facility will be built on Centegra's existing campus at Reed and Haligus roads that includes an immediate care facility, doctors offices, a new back and spine center and the Health Bridge Fitness Center.
But three area hospitals -- Sherman Health in Elgin, St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, aren't ready to throw in the towel just yet.
The trio formed a coalition and waged a heavy campaign against Centegra's plan.
They argued that a hospital in Huntley is not necessary, because there isn't enough growth to justify it. They also charged that it would duplicate existing services, cut into an already limited pool for staff, make it difficult to reduce health costs and better manage health needs in a large population.
The group fought Centegra every step of the way by waging public relations campaigns against Centegra and testifying at every review board hearing.
Representatives from Sherman Health are "deeply disappointed" by the board's decision and the coalition is meeting to discuss its next steps. "We don't understand why the board would have suddenly reversed its decision," Rick Floyd, president and CEO of Sherman Health said in a prepared statement. "Nothing has changed since the review board last considered this proposal in December. They agreed with us then that a new hospital is not needed in McHenry County."
Centegra leaders argued that the hospital was needed due to the increase in McHenry County's population and because the nearest emergency rooms were too far away -- the closest ones are in Elgin and Woodstock.
"We are thrilled by the board's decision to approve Centegra Hospital-Huntley," said Susan Milford, Centegra's senior vice president of strategic planning. "The hospital will build upon existing services offered on our Huntley campus by providing full, round-the-clock inpatient and emergency care. Area residents will now have full access to top-notch health care and wellness services right in their own backyard."
The completed hospital, which is expected to take in patients in 2016, will feature 100 medical surgical beds, an eight-bed Intensive Care Unit, an emergency department with a Level II trauma rating, a Level II special care nursery, noninvasive cardiology services, a helipad for transporting patients who have medical needs beyond Centegra's capabilities and a dedicated women's center.
Centegra already has the blessing of the village to build. Final engineering and design work will now be done.