CHICAGOThe University of Chicago Hospitals long-planned new pavilion has edged forward with a letter of intent sent to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, the first step toward getting a certificate of need. The scale and price tag of the project has increased since the hospital announced conceptual work in 2005. The plans call for a 10-story building with 838,000 square feet at a cost of $700 millionup from 500,000 square feet at $500 millionbuilt on land adjacent to the west of campus on the citys South Side. The hospital will cover $200 million with cash and gifts and finance the rest with bond debt, spokesman John Easton said. Easton said that the hospital intends to have the building complete by 2011 and open in 2012. It would house 240 of about 580 beds, as well as operating rooms, interventional radiology and gastrointestinal procedures.
BOARDMAN, OhioHumility of Mary Health Partners has opened St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center, the third hospital in the Youngstown, Ohio-based system. The 128-bed hospital, built around an existing emergency room and diagnostic center, has seven stories and 300,000 square feet. The system, a subsidiary of Catholic Health Partners, planned the project in response to population growth south of Youngstown and designed it to accommodate an additional patient tower and expanded surgical and emergency departments. The $80 million cost was covered by reserves and operating income since crews broke ground on the project in June 2005. Four floors opened
Aug. 1 and the remaining three are scheduled to open by November, ending with a 20-bed pediatric unit in partnership with 253-bed Akron (Ohio) Childrens Hospital.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.Gov. Rod Blagojevich pulled an odd maneuver last week after lawmakers refused to include any of his healthcare proposals in a long-overdue budget. Blagojevich unveiled a plan in March he said would provide Illinois residents with universal access to health insurance at a cost of $2.1 billion a year, winning support from the Illinois Hospital Association but few allies in the Legislature. Then he pushed a scaled-down version in overtime budget sessions with a looming government shutdown, but the Legislature passed a budget Aug. 10 without it. On Aug. 14 Blagojevich announced he would expand coverage through administrative changes while vetoing $500 million in pork from the bill lawmakers sent him. Thats roughly the cost of the healthcare initiatives, which include paying for breast- and cervical-cancer screenings, expanding eligibility for Medicaid and providing primary care, drug coverage and hospital reimbursement for poor residents who dont qualify for Medicaid. Critics questioned whether the governor has constitutional authority to repurpose spending to pay for his plans. Meanwhile, the budget impasse has threatened the states $1.2 billion hospital assessment program, making the IHA worry there wont be time to disburse the money before the spending authority expires Aug. 31.
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