Concerns linger over possible 911 calls from proposed Haymarket treatment center
Some Itasca residents are challenging Haymarket Center's claim that a proposed addiction treatment center wouldn't strain village emergency services.
The residents say the nonprofit group is trying to skew the Itasca numbers by underreporting the number of 911 calls for its Chicago headquarters.
Haymarket is seeking permission to convert a Holiday Inn along Irving Park Road into a 240-bed facility for patients with substance-use disorders at a time when advocates say there is a rising demand for services.
But the project is facing strong opposition from residents who say Itasca is too small to support the center.
The village's plan commission is holding a series of public hearings on the proposal. During a Wednesday meeting attended by more than 360 people, an attorney for a group of residents questioned Haymarket CFO James Baldwin.
Much of the cross-examination focused on Haymarket's claim that there were 338 emergency calls requiring a response from its Chicago location in one year.
Baldwin last month testified that he and other Haymarket employees reviewed police and fire data showing 863 emergency responses. That total number was reduced during the analysis for several reasons, including instances where individual calls were given multiple service codes.
But residents say Haymarket's analysis of the 911 calls excluded two of the four addresses for its Chicago campus. The number of calls increases significantly when all the addresses are included.
"I was shocked when cross-examination of Mr. Baldwin showed large amounts of data was purposefully left out to manipulate the impact on Itasca's emergency services," said James Diestel, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Itasca group that's working to block Haymarket's proposal.
Diestel said he also disagrees with the methods Haymarket used to reach its final number.
As a result, he said he remains concerned about potential 911 calls from the proposed facility, especially since the fire protection district has only one ambulance.
"How do you analyze the data and say that you're only going to get 20 police visits and 13 EMS visits?" Diestel said. "It makes absolutely no sense."
Haymarket President and CEO Dan Lustig on Thursday acknowledged that analyzing 911 data "is not a typical task for our team."
"We did our best to take data from a larger facility in a more urban setting with patients who have complex medical issues and project what we anticipate at a smaller, suburban site with fewer homeless and chronically ill patients," Lustig said in a statement.
He said Haymarket didn't intentionally leave out any addresses.
"Rather, we based our analysis off the 911 data set provided to the village by the No Itasca Haymarket group," Lustig said.
Haymarket officials have said the proposed facility would have fewer calls than the 400-bed complex in Chicago because it would be smaller, have fewer clients and a smaller medical detox program. In addition, the proposed facility wouldn't handle patients with co-occurring serious mental illness.
Regardless of the total number of calls, Lustig said Haymarket would use a private ambulance service to "handle 90 percent of our medical emergencies and thus not burden Itasca's lone ambulance."
The public hearing on Haymarket's proposal is scheduled to continue on Dec. 4 at Peacock Middle School in Itasca.