While one hospital system is looking forward to building in McHenry County, another hospital system remains in limbo over whether it can do the same.
Tuesday, in a dramatic turned of events, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board issued a certificate of need to Centegra Health System, which gives it permission to build a 128-bed hospital in Huntley. The board had previously rejected the project twice.
"I think the community won, this is truly the right next step for health care in our community," said Susan Milford, Centegra's senior vice president of strategic planning.
Meanwhile, Mercy Health System has to wait until September before the board considers its appeal on building a 70-bed hospital in Crystal Lake.
"We're confident that we will present a case that is compelling and we would hope that the board would look at the merits and approve the project," said Rich Gruber, Mercy's vice president of community advocacy.
Both hospitals had approached the board on two separate occasions and were each turned down.
In Centegra's case, the board was split 4-4 in denying a certificate in December. David Penn, the board member who would have broken the tie, was absent.
But on Tuesday, Penn voted for the project and two members who previously voted against it, supported it. Another trustee changed a yes vote to a no vote. The result was a 6 to 3 vote in favor of the project.
The board also rejected Mercy's scaled-back hospital plan.
Although the board already has approved a new hospital for McHenry County -- the one Centegra will build -- Gruber remains optimistic that the board still will side with Mercy in September.
"If the board was comfortable in approving a hospital for a community of 25,000 people, they ought to look at the needs of a community of more than 165,000 people," Gruber said.