Our view: Huntley hospital back on track

We applaud a Will County judge’s decision backing Centegra Health System’s plan to build a new hospital in Huntley.

Judge Bobbi Petrungaro earlier this month ruled in favor of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board’s approval of the $233 million project.

Illinois is a certificate-of-need state, meaning that health care providers must first get state approval to build or expand to avoid costly duplication of services.

After a prior attempt to get state approval to build the 128-bed hospital at its existing campus at Haligus and Reed roads in Huntley fell short, Centegra won approval in July 2012 on a 6-3 vote.

Because the board overturned its earlier decision denying Centegra’s Huntley project (on a 4-4 vote in December 2011, with one member absent; ties are considered a denial under the board’s rules), Mercy Health System, Sherman Health and Advocate Health Care filed separate requests in Will County Court seeking an administrative review of the board’s reversal.

This legal battle had been going on for more than a year, delaying Centegra’s planned groundbreaking this fall.

While we wish he had ruled sooner, Petrungaro’s decision is the right one.

Centegra sufficiently proved its case – to our Editorial Board, which endorsed its proposal, and more importantly to the state review board – that a new hospital is needed to serve residents in the growing southern portion of McHenry County and northern part of Kane County.

The state’s own data says that McHenry County is the most underserved area in lllinois with regard to the number of available hospital beds per capita. The second most underserved area in the state is northern Kane County. Centegra Hospital – Huntley will serve both areas.

This project will be an economic boon to Huntley and the region. More importantly, it will provide residents who live in the area better access to health care.

About 800 construction jobs will be created as it’s being built, and an additional 1,100 permanent jobs are expected to be added after the new hospital opens, tentatively scheduled for 2016.

We are excited to see this project get under way.