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Good Shepherd plans $247M for expansion, upgrades

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 2:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 5, 2013 2:06 p.m. CDT

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BARRINGTON – Advocate Health plans to spend $247 million to expand and modernize its 34-year-old hospital in Barrington, building private rooms for patients, adding hospital beds and upgrading medical departments.

The project requires approval from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.

The price tag – $246,841,082 – is about $14 million more than what rival Centegra Health System plans to spend to build a 128-bed hospital in Huntley. Competing hospitals in the area have questioned whether the project is needed.

Advocate Good Shepherd President Karen Lambert said hospital officials had looked at several other options in the past several years before deciding to renovate.

Alternatives included building a replacement hospital for $339 million, a larger expansion that would have added 56 hospital beds at a cost of $274 million and doing the projects one at time, which hospital officials estimated would cost $300 million. They also considered doing nothing.

“You always have to ask those questions,” Lambert said. “And we did.”

Ultimately, Advocate Good Shepherd officials decided to move forward with the lower-cost plan. Lambert called it more of a “modernization” for the hospital, built in 1979, than an expansion.

Plans call for erecting a building on the north side of the existing facility to house private patient rooms. Half of the hospital’s current rooms are dual-occupancy.

“Private rooms are becoming an expectation,” Lambert said, adding that the rooms wouldn’t cost patients more.

In a detailed application filed with the state review board, Advocate said single-patient rooms help limit the spread of infection.

The project would expand the hospital’s intensive care unit, update most of the departments to meet industry standards, and relocate other care facilities to allow doctors and nurses to spend more time with patients.

“The new facilities will offer updated technology, which is difficult to provide in a facility designed 40 years ago,” Advocate said in the application. “The goal to keep patients healthy and out of inpatient beds is reflected in the project.”

Good Shepherd’s emergency department, laboratory and mother-child services areas won’t be touched, but all of hospital’s other departments will be updated. Renovations are designed to make the hospital more technology-friendly and more energy efficient.

The project is divided into multiple phases. All work should be done by December 2017, according to the application. In all, it would bring Good Shepherd’s bed count up to 176, from 169.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch has publicly backed the expansion.

“Many facilities being updated in this project have not been modernized since the hospital opened over 30 years ago,” she wrote in a letter to the state’s review board. “Industry standards and patient expectations have changed over the years, and this project will bring the hospital into alignment with current standards.”

Several local residents, officials and physicians also wrote letters to the board supporting the project.

Dr. Dean Feldman, president and chairman of Barrington Anesthesia Associates, said Good Shepherd doesn’t have enough operating rooms and that its existing rooms are too small. In a letter to the board, he wrote that two of Good Shepherd’s 12 surgical operating rooms had enough room to perform complex orthopedic procedures.

However, representatives from other area hospitals were skeptical of the expansion, which comes as Advocate is in talks to merge with Sherman Hospital in Elgin. Advocate, the state’s largest hospital system, has said it plans to invest $200 million in Sherman over five years.

“Between these two projects, the Sherman acquisition and Advocate Good Shepherd renovation, Advocate will spend more than $440 million at a time when health-care resources are precious and their projects propose no new services,” Centegra spokeswoman Kim Kubiak said in a email to the Northwest Herald. “As health-care reform continues to progress, the public will want to pay careful attention to such costs. All health systems have a responsibility to remain mindful of the community needs and limit excessive expenditures.”

Lambert said the costs were justified.

“Our undersize operating room can’t accommodate new clinical technology that is used in the operating room today,” she said.

The project will allow for additional features – such as a community education room – that weren’t envisioned when the hospital was built.

“We’re excited to bring this to our patients and our community,” Lambert said.

She said the proposal could go before the state review board in June.

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