Mercyhealth touts advantages of proposed Crystal Lake microhospital

State needs to approve a certificate of need before facility can be built

CRYSTAL LAKE – Mercyhealth doesn’t see its proposed 13-bed microhospital as an expansion so much as the meeting of several important community needs.

Patients in the Mercyhealth system, especially those in nearby clinics, will be able to stay within it for a number of surgical procedures. And a city the size of Crystal Lake will benefit from having a hospital with a 24-hour emergency room, said Jennifer Hall, vice president of government relations and community advocacy for the Janesville, Wisconsin-based health care company.

If state regulators approve, the small hospital will join last year’s additions of the new Centegra HospitalHuntley and the major renovation and modernization of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.

“Our hope is that the state – as well as Centegra and Advocate – see that we’re focusing on our current patients in Crystal Lake and trying to bring a very simple solution for their continuation of care and provide an emergency room for people who may have limited access to other facilities,” Hall said.

Mercyhealth announced late last month that it submitted an application to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to build the hospital at the corner of Three Oaks Road and Route 31, across from the Holiday Inn – the same site where it sought to build a full hospital in 2003. A certificate of need from the review board is required for the construction or expansion of hospitals in Illinois. A hearing date with the review board has yet to be set.

Besides 13 beds and an emergency room, the microhospital would include two operating rooms and a clinic, into which Mercyhealth would move its four existing clinics in Crystal Lake and one in Lake in the Hills. Clinics elsewhere in McHenry County would not be affected.

Mercyhealth projects that the $82 million hospital and $23 million clinic would create 150 new jobs, not counting the 500 construction and trade jobs to build the campus.

The concept of microhospitals is a relatively new one in medicine, but can generally be thought of as similar to a community or rural hospital, but smaller and located in more metropolitan areas, providing low-acuity, ambulatory and emergency care but leaving more complex care to larger facilities.

Hall said the application is the first of its kind in the state, to her knowledge, adding that Mercyhealth “has never shied away” from trying something new or cutting-edge.

“It’s our hope in providing this small, community hospital that patients will have access to the immediate care they need,” she said.

Mercyhealth has shown its proposal to Crystal Lake city staff, Planning and Economic Development Director Michelle Rentzsch said. It will go through the city’s planning and zoning process once it gets a certificate of need to build the hospital.

“I think, as we said before, a hospital in Crystal Lake is a good thing. It offers employment, and more options for people looking for health care. Overall, it’s positive news,” Rentzsch said.

The company will meet March 14 with the board of the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, President Pam Cumpata said. The corporation’s board will then decide whether or not to back Mercyhealth’s proposal and write a letter of support to state officials.

“From an economic development standpoint, any time there’s an investment in the county, that’s great,” Cumpata said.

Mercyhealth anticipates a late 2020 opening date should it get permission to build.

Centegra’s new 128-bed Huntley hospital opened in August, after a years-long fight to get a certificate of need. Good Shepherd unveiled its $247 million modernization in May.

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