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Christ Hospital President 'Disappointed' By Request for Additional Impact Study

Village wants medical center to pay for independent review of plans for new 9-story patient tower before approving Advocate Christ's zoning variances.

The Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission want to because there are still too many “unknowns” about traffic, flood control and economic impact on the village.

Steve Radice, chair of the plan commission, told hospital officials on Monday that commissioners still don’t have enough information to recommend the medical center’s nine zoning variances for approval by the

“We want to get it right,” Radice said. “I can’t go through with this and feel 100 percent comfortable. It’s bigger than anything [the village] has ever dealt with.”

The latest addition to the medical center campus is part of a $600 million expansion plan to increase capacity and eventually update older buildings on the campus, including The 9-story tower of up to 170 feet will located on the east side of the campus facing Kostner on the site of an existing parking garage.

A new garage will be built in the street lot across Kostner. The garage would be connected to the patient tower by a pedestrian bridge over Kostner.

Advocate Christ President Ken Lukhard said the patient tower would increase capacity, including adding 14 new operating rooms and doubling the size of the emergency department.

The hospital turned away between 5,000 and 8,000 patients last year because there were no available beds. Last year, the emergency department closed for 1,100 hours, diverting patients to other hospitals because it had reached full capacity.

Lukhard told plan commissioners that the medical center wasn’t expecting a vote Monday night.

“We’re not a laid-back community hospital,” Lukhard said. “This is a hospital that is designed to treat the sickest of the sick. If you can look me in the face and tell me that prefer to risk that extra hour and send a loved one with a brain bleed downtown than I want to talk to you about it.”

While no one in the room disagreed that Advocate Christ was one of the top hospitals in the nation, some residents who live near the medical center said they felt "blindsided" by the latest building proposal.

Lukhard told the audience that Advocate had unveiled its 10-year expansion plan in 2008, but tabled it when the economy tanked. He said the medical center has been completely “transparent” with village leaders.

“We’ve been up front for six years,” the hospital president said. “We talked about this with the mayor and the village manager for six years about a campus expansion plan that would have phases. We’ve not blindsided the village with any of this.”

Lukhard said he wasn’t given the go-ahead to publicly talk about the proposed patient tower until after the last fall because Advocate’s corporate board wasn’t sure if it could raise the money.

He said that a model and architectural renderings on what the patient tower would look like haven't been completed yet.

The hospital president also extolled the economic benefits the medical center had brought to the community, including employing 600 local residents at a payroll of $22 million. Lukhard said the new patient tower would provide an additional 150 jobs.

Radice asked the medical center to pay for an impact study to address infrastructural concerns by an independent third party "as a cost of doing business" in the village.

“We want to get it right,” Radice said. “I can’t go through with this and feel 100 percent comfortable. It’s bigger than anything [the village] has ever dealt with.”

Lukhard complained the hospital has already spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies” and “millions on design.”

“We have all the plans done,” he said.

Taking Lukhard to task, Village Manager Larry Deetjen called the expense for paying for one more study “miniscule.”

“The project is not right to be approved tonight,” Deetjen said to residents’ applause. “All we’re asking for is a little more time. Residents have many constructive comments and we’re almost there … we don’t have to reinvent the wheel but there are some key pinpointed issues that if we can agree, we can get them resolved.”

Advocate Christ hopes to have state approvals in the fall so that it can begin construction.

The Planning and Development Commission voted 5-2 to continue the public hearing until its next meeting on May 21. John Eggert and Tim Reilly were the dissenting votes.

Lukhard expressed his disappointment with having to do another study, inciting a hail of fury from the village manager.

“You say you’re disappointed that a lot of work has been done that hasn’t been fully embraced,” Deetjen said. “You haven’t even mentioned the sanitary sewer and the lift station. I will submit to you there has been no public discussion of that, but it has been in your purview for several years to address.”

J. J. Zurek May 09, 2012 at 03:19 AM
All I can tell you is simply this, if you are on deaths door step, you want to be at Christ Hospital, it is a Level 4 Trauma Center, the Doctors, the Nurses and the Support Staff are highly trained and skilled individuals, who are actually dedicated to saving and improving life as we know it today. They are now noted for Heart Transplants, The Surgeons are all rated as #1 and #2 in their fields of study. If you want to make a good omelet, you must crack a few eggs.
andy skoundrianos May 09, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Excuse me, since when has the Village been run by Advocate?? What about giving the village the $800,000 in impact fees?? The hospital contributes nothing in sales tax or property taxes. The use over 10 million gallons of water a month the police and fire are over there all the time. The village may have to hire extra police and fire they have to install a lift station and a new traffic signal which will cost over a million dollars. We the taxpayers will foot the bill not Advocate.
Ginger May 09, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Each time I've been there, I have been disappointed. It is disgusting. After a surgery, I ended up returning due to complications & to my surprise I had to wait the whole night in the hallway because gang bangers were being attended to. It could have been the cook county hospital. I'm completely disgusted & will never go back. The president & previous presidents have turned it into a crap hole. I once volunteered there while attending high school. It has changed too much. In addition, I dont see them hiring oak lawn residents, at least, that's what i have told by a few who work there.
STM May 09, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I totally agree with Andy and Ginger. That is 100% agree.
Mike May 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Can we get the option of being driven to the morgue or funeral home instead?
Sue Fischer May 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Tom Phelan made calls to all his guys on the Planning board telling them how to vote. He wants to escalate this so he can put the blame on Dave Heilmann (for not collecting ad you pass go). The same bullies, same story --- deceit, bad mouthing, drinking, "friendships", denial of friendships, narcissism, hypocrisy, jobs, Madigan, fees, Attorney selection. When does it stop!
Dist. 2 Curious May 09, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I attended the meeting. Sue, does your coment suggest that everybody on that board except the 2 who voted no are Phelan guys or just the chairman who was adamant and hostile about it? Also, what was said at the meeting by one of the no voters makes sense. The first question for PDC is whether they even think that the Advocate Phase 2 expansion is a good idea. If yes, then you move on into the weeds and get whatever follow up studies you need. If no, then studies are a waste and Advocate has to regroup.
QC May 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Sue, Finally someone else gets it too!!!!! This village board needs to be GONE.
andy skoundrianos May 09, 2012 at 06:47 PM
If they go so should the Mayor
osp May 09, 2012 at 07:05 PM
What is the big deal about letting the Planning and Development Board take their time making sure everything is in order? Do you want a project just to be rubber stamped through? Sue your reasoning makes no sense. What did the nearby residents have to say? This project has been in the works since 2007 why does everything have to voted upon right now? If it was that important to Advocate to get this project in front of Illinois Hospital review board or whatever board in the state by the end of the month, then why did they wait until the last minute? Why didn't this come up in January, Febuary, March or April of this year? It sounds like they thought they would be able to just intimidate the Planning and Development board into passing it. By the way, could someone please do please tell me the real spelling of the gentleman's name from Advocate? This article has it spelled a couple of ways.
Cori May 09, 2012 at 07:23 PM
The last time I was at Christ was because my mom received a call that my father had been taken there by ambulance from a rehab center. We got there shortly before 1am and were told that he was being worked on. I asked twice more over the following two hours what was going on and was treated very poorly by the man at the desk. He rudely informed me that they were still working on dad and I better just sit and be patient until they have something to tell me. During this entire time the chaplain was in and out of the waiting area numerous times. At 3am he approached us and asked us why we were waiting so long. I told him what I was told and also my father's name. He then proceeded to ask me why I didn't tell the security guard at the entrance why we were there. I told him there was no guard at the door when we arrived. Apparently the guard was supposed to notify him when we arrived. My dad was DOA. We sat there for two hours in the middle of the night for what? A lame apology from the chaplian. Two weeks later my mother called me to tell me that she just got a letter addressed to my dad asking him how his stay was! I called and complained and never heard back from anyone in authority. This was the last time I was there and the worst of the consistently poor service I'd received there over the years. I live in Crawford Gardens and don't want them to expand in my neighborhood . I'd be happier if they shut their doors.
john Crivellone May 09, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Dear Andy: You are right on target when you talk about the incompetent, inept, dishonest, and down right stupid old coalition party. The sad fact is that we still have to live in the shadow of what they did to this town. However, it is not to late to accomplish some great things. The point that I was trying to make is that instead of arguing over this project like a bunch of children we need to find a way to embrace it. All of these issues should have been discussed and everything should have been agreed on before a shovel ever hit the dirt. That is how real leaders do things.
Bob Lanz May 09, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Andrew I get the point your trying to make but, don't drag the police and fire dept into this arguement. We are there every day transporting patients. The reason the village needs to hire additional firefighter/ paramedics is not because Christ is expanding but because the number of emergency calls for ambulances is expanding. As for the police they are their because prisoners in lock up have to be baby sat while they get medical treatment or the officers themselves have been injured and require medical help. The fact is Christ does need a larger emergency room. As someone who spends as much time as I do there I see the overcrowding and desperate need for more beds, more nurses , and more resources. Christ ER often times goes on what is called bypass status, this means that if you as an OL resident are in need of an ambulance and we have to transport you to the hospital we cannot go to Christ we must divert to either Palos or Little Comapny of Mary. I understand that not everyone has had a great experience at Christ, but it is an excellent hospital with a first class staff and state of the art resources. When you or your family are in need of emergent medical care you want the OLFD Paramedics taking care of you while they transport you to Christ. You dont want that extra transport time to another facility or delay in getting the closest ambulance because ours are out of town, and Christ is full because we didn' let them expand the ER. -Bob Lanz Secretary Treasurer Local 3405
Michael Walsh May 09, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I don't understand how people who have been out of office for almost a decade can be responsible for this proposed hospital expansion. Someone needs to check the variances that were granted back in the 90's when they built the pavillion and the other parking lot. Back then, hospital officials represented that the hospital was "contracting." Reducing the number of beds and expanding their outpatient facilities. Based on that promise they were given some variances-over my objection as to the layout. At that time they said they say no need for future expansion. I didn't believe them then and I don't believe them now. As for impact, without Christ hospital and the Hilton we would not have a building over 4 stories. No need for major hook and ladder equipment to fight a highrise fire. The hospital, the Hilton and the surrounding communities that benefit from the hospital's close proximity should chip in for the addded cost of police and fire, which is significant. This new expansion would essentially destroy the quality of life for the Crawford Gardens neighborhood. If they want to be that big they should buy the whole neighborhood so the people who live there can move to a quiet setting.(at 2006 prices) Mike Walsh, former trustee district 4
Ginger May 09, 2012 at 11:29 PM
So sorry Cori! What a horrible incident! My husband & I hope to move next year. Things have just changed too much.
J. J. Zurek May 09, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Again Ladies and Gentlemen, either you want a First Class Medical Center available to you in Oak Lawn, or you don't. Do people die at Christ Hospital ? truth be told, yes they do, but every one is going to die at some point in time, none of us are getting out of here alive. But while we are here, no matter how good are health is or isn't I am certain the Staff at Christ hospital is ready, willing and able to make us as comfortable as possible, until we are well or go to our demise. Lets not make this a political football, when it comes to life, health or safety issues, if the members on the Boards are minions, and are doing some politicians bidding instead of voting their conscience, hopefully Christ Hospital will be "ON BY PASS" when someone close to them really needs quick and proper medical treatment, so they are able to reap what they sowed. If they are doing the right things, then let them sort it out. What is with this quickness to point fingers and blame someone all the time, I am certain if Christ hospital is a financial drain on Oak Lawn, Illinois the powers that be know all too well on how to recoup. It just seems to me no matter what I read about things happening in Oak Lawn, there always seems to be a PRO or a Con Political Angle. Does anyone ever want to address something because it needs to be addressed, and not because of one's political affillation. Mr. Walsh are you aware of the term of "eminent domain" to be continued
andy skoundrianos May 09, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Mr. Lanz I have never met you,the comments about more police and fire because of the expansion of the hospital was made by the police and fire chiefs not me. I am only repeating what they stated.I know you are a fireman and you want the best for your department,but I live here pay taxes,and can vote You sir with all do respect, do not.What happens in this village you have no control over because you can't vote,and you don't pay property taxes. Who says I wouldn't want to go to Palos or another hospital. You are for the project because you won't be paying for it. The expansion for the ER is not even what the PD&C are voting on. That phase has not even been discussed.I'm sorry if you feel I was dragging the departments into argument that was not my intention, I was only stating the possible additional costs to taxpayers if the project goes through.
andy skoundrianos May 10, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Mr. Zurek the village has tried this year to recoup some money in the form of impact fees from Advocate. The are fighting the village tooth and nail on this subject. Why??The are a multi billion dollar co. $ 750,000 will not break them.
J. J. Zurek May 10, 2012 at 12:16 AM
You referred to something that happened back in the 90's, are you saying that the elected officials back then or the Executives that were in charge of Christ Hospital have a crystal ball or something, Everyone back then knew exactly what was going to happen in 2012, I find that very hard to believe. As an example they fix the expressways and tollways every year, but guess what 1/2 of them have construction and/or repairs again, and again. The Elected Officials built a Toll Way they were going to make it a free way as soon as they collected enough tolls to pay for the work, guess what not only did they not honor the SUNDOWN CLAUSE that was in the Bill to Build the Toll Way the raised the tolls like 7 times already. Christ Hospital is not expanding because they don't have any patients to fill up the place, they are expanding because they are now doing TRANSPLANTS NOW that were not even on the drawing board back in the 1990's I have friends that are alive today because of the fantastic work done by the good Doctors and Nurses and the Technicians on Staff, and yes I had some Family Members and some Friends DIE at Christ Hospital too, but not because the Attending Staff failed, it was because all of them could be alive today I guess, if you consider being hook up to a machine that will keep you ALIVE, but not actually have any quality of life. If you are good at what you do, you EXPAND if you are bad at what you do, you go "OUT OF BUSINESS"
Ginger May 10, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Good at what they do? Hmm, leave a patient in the hallway for numerous hours, mind YOU IN PAIN but immediately respond to the needs of thugs, who purposely put their lives in danger. Can you say future Cook County hospital! writing is on the wall. hope you get your expansion, I'll be moving so i don't care.
J. J. Zurek May 14, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Mr. Skoundrianos I am aware that Advocate Health is is a Multi Billion Dollar Operation, but that is the point. Just tell them that Oak Lawn needs or must have $750,000.00 for fees to approve to and/or issue the permits or whatever, Paying a 3rd party for a study, does not really benefit Oak Lawn or the residents. They (OAK LAWN) already tried to make and end run on the Parking Tax, so Advocate said everyone parks for free. The bottom line is Oak Lawn is looking for some type of fee from Christ Hospital to off set some other Bills or cost that Oak Lawn might be on the hook for, by allowing them to expand, So if that is the case then tell them it will "X" amount of dollars period. Quit dancing around talking about this study and that study. It will cost "X" amount, pay it or don't build it period. The Officials in the Government wanted to build that DOWNTOWN 95th STREET FIASCO, even put a referemdum on the ballot, it was voted down something like 75% Against and 25% for and the Elected Officials built it anyway, and got booted out for the arrogance. What if Christ Hospital decided to move like Silver Cross did to the City of Joliet, you can only push the envelope so far. Then you either need to fish or cut bait. That is all I am saying. I'll bet dollars to donuts, tell Christ it will cost $750,000.00 for the Permits and they will write the check. Someone saying pay $750,000.00 and we will see what we can do, means spend the money and we might say NO, is not very realistic.
m May 15, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I am an Oak Lawn resident and an employee of Christ Hospital. Ken Lukhard is an excellent president who strives for patient, physician and associate satisfaction. Many of the above mentioned issues can be remedied if the new construction is approved. As for the mistakes made by the hospital, please remember that no hospital is perfect, as no human is perfect. Every hospital has strengths and weaknesses and Mr. Lukhard is trying very hard to correct Christ Medical Center’s deficiencies. We are working in an over-crowded space and doing the best we can possibly do. Our physicians are frustrated by the lack of bed space, operating rooms and Emergency Department facilities. Again, the construction plans can alleviate much of this frustration. Many in the community are unaware of the positive attributes of the hospital, such as the wonderful care givers at Hope Children’s Hospital, the Cancer Center or how many lives have been saved by the heart and kidney transplant programs. This institution is a vital component to the community of Oak Lawn as well as the surrounding communities.
MsBach May 15, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I am an employee of CMC as well and second that last statement. Furthermore, we do not prioritize our patients based on race/age/occupation (including "thug") we prioritize based on how critical their needs are. But thanks for detailing why we need this expansion. We hate having people in pain in the halls of the ER. We'd much rather have you more comfortable in a room. What we hate more? Turning someone away BC you took our last spot on that wall. That is why we need the expansion. As a Level 4 TraumaCenter - you the community come to us in your time of need. We do our best with the resources we have but we cannot create space. But this expansion can do just that - no more wall waiting for you. Unfortunately, you will have to excuse us while we treat our shooting victim before your wrist pain. Unless of course you want to explain to his mom the new policy of treating "thugs" last, even in life or death. And you better hope he wasn't an innocent bystander on his way back from the ballpark or something...BC that could get to be a difficult conversation. Hmmm, maybe just go back to our initial prioritization - critical first. Anything else could borderline on discrimination, and you wouldn't want to be accused of anything like that, would you Ginger?
OakLawnGuy May 15, 2012 at 05:57 PM
This thread has turned to Advocate-Love-It-Or-Hate-It, so I'll toss this in. We've had two children at Christ, and excellent care both times. Those nurses are saints. We've hit the ER probably 6 or 7 times. Once I was stuck in a hallway, fortunately with a relatively minor issue, but it was Saturday afternoon. Another visit was with a toddler on a Saturday night, and it was a zoo, but as the main trauma center south of Stroger that's to be expected. My mom was in there several times, never a major issue with hospital staff. The worst episode was when a woman whose name I never found out called me at my workplace to tell me my mom had died. That was a pretty dark episode and not handled well, and I reported it.
OakLawnGuy May 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I've also dealt with Little Company Of Mary on a few occasions for one parent or another, and while it's quieter there, the service was not noticeably superior.
CD July 20, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I have to say Advocate Christ *was* pretty bad up until several years ago when Ken Lukhard took over. The patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction, and nurse satisfaction scores have double or tripled since then. The problems you mention are due to a small ER having to take care of all of south side Chicago and northwest Indiana; and a tiny number of operating rooms. That's why they need an expansion. Christ obviously does hire Oak Lawn residents, but I don't know that they can legally prefer OL residents over other applicants.
CD July 20, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Kenneth Lukhard is the spelling.
CD July 20, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Mr Walsh, as of the time you wrote this the high rise condos on 95th Street already exist and are certainly over four stories - are we not already equipped to deal with them?
J. J. Zurek July 20, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Ken Lukhard Stop the Building, Stop the Construction, lay off all of your employees, have your Contractors lay off the Trades People, Move your hospital to a place in Will or Kankakee County where the Superior Medical Staff and Support Staff will be appreciated and save lives, leave the entire South and Southeast and Southwest burbs without a level four (4) Trauma Center. So all of the Police Officers and Fire Fighters and the Residents can get into an Ambulance and ride for another 30 plus minutes to Stroger Hospital or Northwestern Hospital, so Mr. Deetjen and the B & Z Board can decide on how or whom can build on 95th and Kostner into a booming TAX CASH COW DISTRICT, so the residents can find more fast food debris all over their lawns and more people driving thru their neighborhood, so Oak Lawn can experience another fiasco on 95th Street just so they can all go by the wayside like the last administration. In the Alternative give the Village their $1.00 per car tax that they wanted originally and you could build whatever is necessary without any impact study, as long as you build enough parking spaces to equal the amount of taxes that all of the Fast Food places generate and Mr. Deetjen and the B & Z Committee will give you whatever variences you need, because it is easier for all to pay a $1.00 tax to Oak Lawn and the Visitors paying think that the Hospital is just making a few more bucks Your problems only began when you went to free parking, remember that next time.
J. J. Zurek July 20, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Better yet charge $2.00 per can to park, and put right on the Ticket Stub, $1.00 for the Hope Children Hospital to defry the costs of the Children who are covered by medicade and $1.00 for the Village of Oak Lawn, in big bold print

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