Illinois regulators unanimously approved MercyRockford Health System's plans to build one of the first new hospitals in the state in more than 30 years.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which decides the fate of health care projects to prevent duplication of services, approved the project today, with one board member absent.
“We are proud and grateful to the hundreds of individual and organizations who wrote letters of support, spoke in favor of our project and the 7,100 individuals who signed our petition,” Javon Bea, MercyRockford president and CEO, said in a statement.
MercyRockford's $482.8 million project has three parts: building a new 188-bed hospital about nine miles east of the existing Rockford Memorial Hospital; downsizing and modernizing Rockford Memorial, and constructing a medical office building on the new hospital campus.
The vote comes on the heels of a recent report from the staff of the facilities board, which found that MercyRockford's proposal failed to meet 11 standards for projects coming before the board.
They included duplicating services. Hospitals within a 30-minute drive of the proposed new campus have a lot of empty patient beds. Within 90 minutes, some hospitals aren't performing enough services to meet state standards, notably open heart surgery, the report said.
State regulators often aren't swayed by the staff reports and approve proposals anyway.
While several hospitals have replaced their facilities in recent years, such as Silver Cross Hospital moving from Joliet to New Lenox, MercyRockford's new hospital would be among only a handful of new ones built in the last three decades.
Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital was the first new hospital to open in the state in 25 years when it debuted in 2008 in the southwest suburbs. The only other new facilities in the state will be Centegra Hospital-Huntley in the northwest suburbs and Memorial Hospital-East in downstate Shiloh. Both are slated to open in 2016.
MercyRockford was created in January through the merger of Rockford Health System and Janesville, Wis.-based Mercy Health System, forming a five-hospital network.
The new hospital campus is slated to open in June 2019, and renovations at Rockford Memorial would be finished a year later.