CRYSTAL LAKE – Centegra Health System is no more enamored with Mercyhealth’s latest attempt to build a Crystal Lake hospital than it was with its previous ones, echoing past statements that another hospital is not needed.
Rockford-based Mercyhealth has submitted an application to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to build a 13-bed “microhospital” at the corner of Three Oaks Road and Route 31. It has made two other attempts since 2003 to build a hospital at the location.
Hadley Streng, senior vice president for strategy and development for Crystal Lake-based Centegra, said the company’s position “has not changed in the nearly 15 years since Mercyhealth first tried to build a hospital in Crystal Lake.”
“There is no need for the services Mercy proposes, and Crystal Lake is not the right location for a new hospital, no matter its size. The [review board] already determined there was a need for a new hospital, a need that was met when Centegra Hospital – Huntley opened in August 2016,” Streng said.
Permission from the health facilities board is required to build a new hospital in Illinois or to expand an existing one.
Besides 13 beds and an emergency room, the proposed 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.
In a statement, Mercyhealth President and CEO Javon Bea said the people of Crystal Lake, especially people with limited transportation means, deserve around-the-clock access to emergency care and hospital service for common health issues. He called Centegra’s opposition to a “very modest microhospital and clinic” unfortunate.
“This is something that is very much needed because those services do not currently exist,” Bea said. “I reached out to both nearby competitors before our announcement to provide them with an opportunity to understand our proposal and collaborate in the delivery of health care to patients who would use the planned facility. We remain very open to working together.”
Downers Grove-based Advocate has not yet taken a position and is “reviewing the application to assess the potential impact to our patients,” the state’s largest health care system said in a statement.
The concept of microhospitals is a relatively new one in medicine, but generally can 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.
Mercyhealth representatives attended Tuesday evening’s Crystal Lake City Council meeting to talk about the plan during the public comment section. That invited direct and pointed questions from Mayor Aaron Shepley, who is Centegra’s general counsel and president of insurance services.
Shepley did not take a position during the meeting, but questioned things such as the number of jobs Mercyhealth said the project will create, and the fact that state rules require a minimum of 100 beds to build a hospital.
Shepley said he would have recused himself had Mercyhealth asked for support or anything requiring a vote. He said he owed it to the city to ask tough questions based on his expertise with the subject.
“I would have been doing a disservice to my fellow council members, and the city, if I had not asked questions based on what I know,” Shepley said.