Oak Lawn delays hospital expansion hearing
By Bob Rakow Correspondent June 6, 2012 9:30AM
Christ Medical Center
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:48PM
Christ Hospital and Medical Center administrators will have to wait at least two more weeks before Oak Lawn officials consider a zoning variation for a nine-story patient tower on Kostner Avenue.
With more than 100 hospital employees and village residents in attendance, village officials, in an 8 to 1 vote Monday, postponed a planning and development commission public hearing to June 18 saying they have unanswered questions about the project.
The hospital only has submitted answers to 14 of the village’s more than 30 questions, Steve Radice, plan commission chairman, said.
Gregg Graines, hospital attorney, said some of the questions were outside the purview of the expansion project such as a list of property owned by the hospital.
“We did respond to the things we could respond to right away,” Graines said.
He asked commissioners to reconsider postponing the hearing, but Radice said, “We have to do our due diligence.”
Radice said none of the commissioners are opposed to the plan.
“We’ll bend over backwards to make this work for you guys. There’s a lot on our plate to look at. If we do our jobs today, it’s going to be great for all of us in the future.”
Residents who live in the neighborhood adjacent to the hospital campus have concerns about the expansion, including traffic, security and flooding.
Village Trustee Tom Duhig, whose district includes the hospital, has said attention must be paid to the impact on village services, including police, fire and public works.
Dominica Tallarico, the hospital’s chief operating officer, asked the commission to consider the zoning petitions that do not involve any of the village’s questions.
In all, the hospital has nine petitions before the commission related to height, setback and easement variations.
Village manager Larry Deetjen said village and hospital officials have not met for more than one month.
“That will not get the job done,” Deetjen said.
The patient tower is the second phase of the hospital’s $600 million expansion plan, which also includes construction of an ambulatory pavilion, parking and expansion of Hope Children’s Hospital.
The tower would be built on the site of an existing parking garage and will include an expanded emergency room and 14 operating rooms. A parking tower would be built across the street and connected to the patient tower via a pedestrian bridge.
The hospital’s plan calls for ground to be broken on the patient tower later this year and work to be completed in early 2015.
The hospital requires the village’s endorsement in order to submit the expansion plan to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for approval.
Doubling the size of the emergency room would reduce the number of hours the hospital is forced to divert patients to other hospitals due to lack of beds. In 2011, the emergency department was closed for 1,100 hours, Lukhard said.
Additional operating rooms would reduce the amount of time patients have to wait for surgical procedures, he said.
Construction of a nine-story ambulatory pavilion began in October. The addition on the northwestern edge of the campus at 95th Street and Kilbourn Avenue will contain outpatient clinics, operating suites for outpatient procedures, labs, advanced imaging technology and space for three of the campus’ institutes — cancer, heart and vascular and neurosciences — and the women’s center.