State board rejects proposed ER centers
By Susan Demar Lafferty email@example.com February 5, 2013 8:18PM
Ruth Colby senior vice president of business development for Silver Cross Hospital and its attorney Edward Green, speak during a meeting of the illinois Health Facilities Board at Bolingbrook Golf Club in Bolingbrook, IL on Tuesday February 4, 2013. They spoke on behalf of the proposal from Silver Cross Hospitals to build a 24-hour care centers in Frankfort. | Sue Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:28AM
A state review board on Tuesday rejected two separate plans to build emergency medical centers in the Frankfort area, deciding that such facilities would mean an unnecessary duplication of services.
On a 6 to 1 vote, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board denied requests by New Lenox-based Silver Cross Hospital and Kankakee-based Riverside Medical Center, saying there was sufficient emergency care available in the Frankfort area.
Silver Cross wanted to build an $8.7 million center on U.S. 30 east of LaGrange Road in Frankfort. Riverside proposed a $10.3 million facility in an unincorporated area at LaGrange and Steger roads. Riverside submitted its proposal Nov. 9; Silver Cross Nov. 21.
It was not expected that the board would approve both proposals because they would have been within five minutes of each other.
The board also described the planned ER centers as too costly. It said Silver Cross would have to add infrastructure to the site, such as roads and water and sewer lines and meet Frankfort’s aesthetic requirements, while the Riverside plan slightly exceeded the state’s standard cost for such a building.
At a public hearing in January, several people spoke in support of and against the proposed emergency centers. At Tuesday’s hearing, prior to the state board’s decision, representatives from other area hospitals — South Suburban, St. James and St. Joseph — opposed the plans, citing an excess capacity at existing hospitals’ emergency rooms.
Seth Warren, president of St. James Hospital, described the centers proposed by Silver Cross and Riverside as “marketing tools” that would result in even more overcapacity.
Richard Heim, president of South Suburban Hospital, said hospitals need to reduce the trend of people visiting emergency rooms, instead of their primary care doctors, for routine medical needs.
Board member Kathy Olson agreed.
“I have an issue with the entire concept (of a freestanding emergency room) and don’t understand how it could be cheaper,” she said. “How do we stop people from using emergency rooms for inappropriate reasons?”
Officials from Riverside and Silver Cross said they expect ER visits to increase as the federal Affordable Health Care law takes effect. Riverside chief executive Phil Kambic said freestanding ERs will be a “whole new model of care” in the future.
Kambic also said that if patients to the new emergency center required more extensive care, they would be transferred to Silver Cross Hospital because Riverside is “too far away.”
Ruth Colby, Silver Cross’ senior vice president of business development, said the patients anticipated at the new Frankfort center would come from Silver Cross’ existing patient load, not from other hospitals.
At the January hearing, Colby said Silver Cross had planned to build a medical office building on the Frankfort site but that was shelved once the economy fell into recession.