Judge backs approval of Centegra hospital in Huntley

HUNTLEY – Centegra Health System cleared another hurdle in its efforts to build a new hospital in Huntley.

Will County Judge Bobbi Petrungaro backed the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board’s approval of the $233 million project in a decision issued Friday.

The Oct. 23 groundbreaking on the 128-bed acute care hospital was delayed because of a yearlong lawsuit filed by competitors Mercy Health System, Advocate Health Care and Sherman Health after the state board reversed two previous rejections of Centegra’s application.

“During this three-year process, we remained confident that this hospital project was in the best interest of the residents who call our community home,” Centegra’s chief executive officer, Mike Eesley, said in a news release.

The complaints filed by the three competitors contended that the ruling should be reversed because Department of Public Health staff said the proposal did not meet three of the state’s 20 standards, including there being a need in McHenry County for the proposed project and that it does not unnecessarily duplicate health care and clinical services in the area.

The state board disagreed with the staff assessment, determining that, with growth for the area estimated at 13 percent, the project would meet future need.

Despite the lawsuit, Centegra has been moving ahead with the design and permitting processes.

Detailed designs presented to the Huntley Plan Commission show a five-story hospital with 100 surgical beds, an eight-bed intensive care unit, a full-service emergency department and a helipad for transporting critical-needs patients.

The system plans on breaking ground in the spring with the hospital opening still planned for 2016, Eesley said.

Before that can happen, though, Centegra needs final approval from the village of Huntley and to wrap up its final financing phase, said Susan Milford, Centegra’s senior vice president for strategy and development.

Centegra estimates the project will create 800 construction jobs and expects to hire 1,000 employees to staff the proposed Centegra Hospital – Huntley.

The local economic impact from the construction, salaries and the purchase of medical equipment and furnishings is estimated at $197 million, according to the release.

Mercy Health System has not decided whether it will appeal the decision, Mercy Vice President Richard Gruber said.

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