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Vista Health System's Lindenhurst hospital denied
By Vincent Pierri | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/29/2009 4:30 PM | Updated: 1/29/2009 4:57 PM

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Officials at Vista Health System say they will revise plans to build a new hospital in Lindenhurst after their latest proposal was denied by the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

Barbara J. Martin, president and CEO of the Waukegan-based hospital group, said Thursday she will present the board a new or modified proposal in March.

"While we are disappointed by the outcome, we remain focused on improving access to health care for the residents of northwest Lake County and serving the health care needs of all our communities," Martin said in a written statement. "We will need to evaluate our new hospital plans and determine the next steps that are best for our communities."

In a split decision Wednesday in Chicago, the planning board denied Vista's proposal to build the nearly $100 million facility near Deep Lake Road and Route 132. It was the fourth time in the last two years Vista has sought approval from the board. The lack of a majority means the plan was rejected.

The planning board has repeatedly cited an over abundance of hospital beds in Lake County as its reason for denying Vista's effort.

Planning board executive secretary Jeffrey Mark said the two members who voted against the proposal believed Vista failed to comply with the specific criteria set by the board. Mark did not offer details about the decision.

The proposal presented Wednesday by Martin was a modified version of one that was deferred at a September meeting. It called for an increase in the number of medical/surgical beds from 64 to 100. The total proposed hospital beds would be 132, with 12 beds for intensive care and 20 for obstetrics. In turn, Vista would agree to discontinue the 108 beds not being used at Vista Medical Center East.

The Vista proposal called for a Level II trauma center, which would be equipped with a helicopter pad to transport the most critical cases to other area Level I hospitals.

Supporters said the facility would benefit the Lindenhurst-area economy. As a for-profit hospital, it would increase the tax base and attract professional offices and other businesses, they said.

Lindenhurst Mayor Susan Lahr called the decision "very disappointing."

"The village of Lindenhurst and our residents, as well as surrounding communities, continue to support the efforts of Barbara Martin and Vista Health in its endeavor," Lahr said.