Huntley, Centegra talk traffic, siting of new hospital

HUNTLEY – Village trustees focused on traffic flow and design changes Thursday in their first planning meeting with Centegra Health System officials about the proposed $233 million Huntley hospital.

The meet-and-greet style meeting allowed trustees and Huntley Plan Commission members to question Centegra Chief Executive Michael Eesley and other officials about the look and feel of the five-story, 128-bed hospital.

Eesley explained that Centegra’s recent decision to move the proposed facility about a half-mile south of the original location at Haligus and Reed roads was driven primarily by a desire to make the hospital more accessible to those using the nearby Centegra Health Bridge and ambulatory care mall.

“We think it will make a more viable campus and an opportunity for people to really engage in all levels of care, from wellness to acute care,” Eesley said. “It’s a better use of that property.”

Plans now call for the 375,000-square-foot hospital to sit between the mall and health bridge, which faces Algonquin Road. The campus-style design also leaves room for expansion to the south.

Village Manager Dave Johnson started the meeting by listing features and amenities of the hospital. It should feature 100 surgical beds, an eight-bed intensive care unit, full-service emergency center and a helipad for critical-need patients.

Trustees focused many of their questions on traffic around the hospital that will serve the growing Huntley area and employ 1,100 people. But they also took time to joke with the Centegra officials. Trustee Harry Leopold playfully volunteered to be a simulated patient to test the emergency helipad.

Centegra will conduct a traffic study in coming months to see whether a main entrance, off Haligus Road to the west, is conducive for emergency access to the hospital.

Eesley said Centegra likely will send formal architectural designs to the village in the next two months. Officials hope to break ground on the facility in October, nearly a year-and-a-half after a state board approved the Huntley project.

Aaron Shepley, general counsel for Centegra, also updated the village on lawsuits by Centegra’s rivals that aim to squelch the construction. He said the lawsuits by Sherman Hospital and the Advocate and Mercy health systems should come before the Illinois Circuit Court in March.

But Shepley said he doubted the courts would side with Centegra’s competitors.

“We are disappointed that they chose to do this,” Shepley said. “They know how difficult it is to overturn a decision from [the state] planning board, especially with an application that was as clean as ours.”

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