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Plan Commission to Advocate Christ: ‘You Didn’t Answer Our Questions’

Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission stands firm in refusing to give its recommendation to medical center expansion plans until Advocate Christ sufficiently addresses neighborhood concerns.

The Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission respectfully refused to reopen a public hearing for Advocate Christ because the

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and Oak Lawn planning commissions had agreed last month that the village would submit questions on specific aspects of the medical center’s planned expansion. The hospital management team skipped the last PDC meeting saying it needed more time to respond to the village’s questions.

PDC chair Steve Radice said that the only reason the commission agreed to submiting questions in the first place was because

“To date, neither Advocate’s management team nor their recently attained legal counsel have abided by our request,” Radice said. “You have not answered all the questions, in fact, you have only answered a handful of the questions.”

Radice added during Monday’s PDC meeting that the and that only 14 had been answered, many referring to a newly commissioned impact study by the hospital.

“It’s our duty and our obligation to each and every citizen of this great community to do the best job possible in representing them,” Radice said, motioning to postpone the public hearing. “Without the requested complete answers to all our questions, it’s impossible for us to move forward to our job tonight.”

Medical center employees who live in Oak Lawn also packed village hall armed with pre-printed talking points in support of Advocate Christ’s $600 million expansion.

“I’m only guessing employees are here to address what a great hospital Christ is,” Radice said. “Advocate Christ saved my father’s life a couple of years ago. I don’t think anyone up here thinks that this hospital should just remain status quo or should not grow or expand. We’re all in agreement that it should.”

Advocate Christ’s newly obtained legal counsel, Greg Graines of DLA Piper, “made the record clear” that the medical center answered “14 of the village’s 24 questions.”

“I counted over 30,” Radice replied.

Graines explained it was confusing because some of the village's questions were “outside the scope” of the PDC’s responsibilities, in terms of the zoning process for special use, height and setback variances.

“What we were intending to do was focus on that part of the zoning process …” Graines said. “Things that were outside the scope were more campus wide and not specific to this project. We view the questions outside the scope of this hearing as part of this ongoing community relationship process.”

Plan commissioner John Eggert said he thought Advocate Christ’s answers were “well thought out, articulate and intelligent.”

“I’m sorry this process is delayed,” Eggert said, “but because there’s now reference to a study being done, as much as I don’t like to say this, I feel compelled to stay that we should now wait and see the results of the study and see what they bring to the table.”

Radice would also not allow public testimony from the Advocate Christ workers or neighbors living near the medical center, thanking them for their time.

The medical center needs village's blessing before it can obtain a certificate of need from the state to begin construction to make the April 2015 opening for the inpatient tower.

Last year, the currently under construction.

“I’d say that if this board was against this expansion and it was known, I’d say bring on the testimony. We’re all on the same page that we need to get this done,” Radice said, “but you already did that on May 7 with seven doctors. None of us were surprised by all the lives you saved.”

Initially, Radice continued, plan commissioners weren’t going to ask the medical center for another impact study but hire a firm mutually agreed upon by Advocate Christ and the village to vet the most important parts of existing studies.

“In the meantime it seems like Advocate chose its own company to do the impact study,” Radice added. “I don’t know if [you] worked with the village on that.”

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that Advocate Christ has not sat down to meet with the village in over a month. Email exchanges, he said, weren't sufficient.

“You’ve seen democracy in action. Our job as stewards is to make sure that we carefully and considerately look at your application, but there has been no face-to-face communication since May 3 with Advocate Christ,” Deetjen said. “That will not get the job done.”

Asked after the meeting to describe Advocate Christ’s answers to village’s questions about the proposed expansion to date, Deetjen responded, “incomplete.”

Commissioners voted to table the public hearing and put the nine petitions on hold until the next PDC meeting on June 18. Eggert was the lone dissenting vote.

Anonymous June 05, 2012 at 02:57 PM
In answer to the question above, yes, the Village of Oak Lawn needs to stand firm, and not back down in regards to an impact study. As someone who knows firsthand what is going on at Advocate Christ Medical Center, the quality of care is definitely declining. Advocate Christ Medical Center needs to address it's current issues before even considering an expansion. To hear that Advocate Christ has hired it's own company to perform an impact study is a huge conflict of interest. The Village of Oak Lawn is merely trying to protect the citizens of Oak Lawn and it's surrounding communities. I urge everyone to get all of the facts before taking sides on this issue. This impact study needs to be performed by an independent, mutually agreed upon firm. With Advocate Christ Medical Center now being the largest and busiest Level 1 Trauma Center in the state, the Village of Oak Lawn has the responsibility of protecting the interests of millions of people. The Village of Oak Lawn is NOT playing hard ball.
MJ June 05, 2012 at 06:01 PM
The petition for this parking garage has become a platform for some to use about other complaints with Advocate. The questions that were answered seemed to never make it to the board members for review before the meeting anyway even though they had been sent on May23rd. At numerous times through the meeting the board admitted that this was a much bigger project than they ever had to work on, and thus needed all information possible. I just wonder if all the studies and testimony in the world could change that? Perhaps it would be helpful to do some research about how other large hospitals have been able to not only survive, but thrive in a community such as this. Not sure how many places can continue to survive after turning away nearly 7,000 patients/customers per year. If in the end the Village feels that this parking garage will ruin the Village, maybe a compromise would be possible in the effort to keep necessary parking for the Hospital on the campus. Lastly, Advocate employees weren't there to blow our horns about how many lives we save. Many areas of the Hospital have been "busting at the seams" for years now. We just need and want to do the best we can to care for our patients. That is why we were there!
Gary June 05, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Tom Duhig and Tom Phelan, said it best, that the hospital while they do great work,they only use Village services and don't contribute pay property taxes! The also don't pay sales tax. The Village needs to look at itself as business and cannot keep giving away services without any kind of financial help, from the hospital. Keep up the good work and let us make sure they everyone pays thier fair share.
fred wiese June 05, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I still say " Go to Palos. Let Advocate go to Romeoville". Too much traffic. Get rid of the trauma center. We need ?? more motels. More car dealers. Our leaders know whats best for us.
J. J. Zurek June 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I could not pick Mr. Steve Radice out of a line up, however I am a resident of Oak Lawn and a Tax Payer too, if I ever attended a meeting and wanted to voice my opinion and he would not allow me to, Personally speaking I would file a Law Suit against him in his Official Capacity and Personally too, he is not an Elected Official he is appointed, ergo I would believe he is a resident of Oak Lawn and is on that Committee or any committee, which mission is to get public input from the Tax Payers (Residents) and report back to the City Counsel, if the opinion of the people is yea or nay, not to impose his bias if any on to the residents. If Mr. Radice did in fact refuse to let the residents in attendance the right to speak either for or against the project he should be removed from the committee immediately, and whoever appointed him should find another minion to do his/her bidding without being so blatant. After all this is supposed to be a democracy.
Dave W. June 05, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Well said and totally agree.
OakLawnGuy June 05, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I'm reading Fred's comment in a sarcasm font. That's the only way it makes sense.
Dave W. June 05, 2012 at 09:31 PM
To be clear, I agreed with the initial post...I have no idea how to take fred wiese's comment.
anthony June 05, 2012 at 10:35 PM
If OL wanted to play hardball they would be looking to Rosemont and other cities like that and institute a parking/garage tax on multi level parking structures.If one is not already in place.. The patient would not feel it...
J. J. Zurek June 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous apparently you are under some misguided opinion that OL is either going to approve or deny some expansion at CHRIST, which is not really factual. Because what will happen eventually is Advocate will file suit, the Village will then hire outside counsel, just like they just did before pay millions of dollars in legal fees, Christ will be allowed to expand and instead of getting the $750,000.00 OL is looking for, they will spend twice that much of TAX PAYER MONEY and hope the Voter has a short memory at election. But "As someone who knows firsthand what is going on at Advocate Christ Medical Center, the quality of care is definitely declining. Advocate Christ Medical Center needs to address it's current issues before even considering an expansion." I don't know what that allegation is all about, but it has some Medical Malpractice Overtones, and if that is the case you should be writing to the State Licensing Board and not patch. Or in the alternative you should be writing to the CEO of Advocate Christ letting him or her know that all or some of the employees are performing at less then acceptable standards of care. After all what is more important the over all quality of a person's life or their demise, or the ease of traffic flowing down 95th street. I don't have a problem with anyone speaking their mind, however I have serious problems with someone making serious allegations about something or someone then hide behind some sort of anonymity.
J. J. Zurek June 06, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Ladies and Gentlemen, Moms and Dads, Children of all ages be advised that some of the most well respected Men & Women in the Medical Field today ply their trade at Advocate Christ Hospital. These Men and Women have been recognized by Organizations in the Medical Field as being the best of the best. Lets not forget HOPE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL Not only are the Doctors the Best of the Best but so is the support staff too. The Nurse's, Technicians, Clinicians, Clerk's, Security Staff all of those individuals together make Advocate Christ Hospital a great Institution by working together as a team and everyone pulling the wagon in the same direction. The truly amazing thing is Christ Community Hospital was here way before a lot of the individuals who are now complaining about the hospital even knew where Oak Lawn, Illinois was even located Reminds of some people I know that bought houses next to and/or near the Air Port and complain about the Jet Planes. Advocate Christ Hospital expansion is progress, and the Federal, State, County & City Governments always say you should not stand in the way of progress. A lot of people are now working and feeding their families like electricians, plumbers, carpenters and Brick Layers because of this project, Joliet, Illinois tried this same strategy with Silver Cross, check out the end result. People moan and groan about Trades People being out of work, then when work could be available the people don't want the work to be done. Totally Amazing
Anne Tara June 06, 2012 at 01:55 AM
It crteates jobs! These people on the board are political hacks for becuase they know how to turn a screwdriver, are "qualified" to bully Chris Hospital. Some are Phelans drinking buddies, some are in it to pad their own pockets. Wall Steet is not moving, and we need construction growth. Quit being bureaucrats, collet your impact fee, and move on!! Its the only development we have outside of that pipe dream at 111th Street.
anthony June 06, 2012 at 03:51 AM
This is a good example of Corporation vs Government...Be thankful the elected officials are not already stuffed to the gills unable to speak! I notice a little media advocate blitz coming so lets see here... Best and brightest part.... Which country ?(offhanded remark that since it is a training hospital It boasts some 95 countries that study there , its a joke maybe not 95) while i found wonderful accolades ratings for best hospitals It is very difficult to find any negative or unfavorable ones Unless one reads hack reviews by normal posters.. Granted anyone who "writes" something has a strong opinion... It performed 11,693 annual inpatient and 9,897 outpatient surgeries. Its emergency room had 85,586 visits...683-bed general medical and surgical facility with 40,704 admissions...last year The point.. That place is 15% of the Corporations worth..They aint going nowhere! And the expansion must continue! OL has a chance to fight back for the residents (whats the % of Christ employees living in OL or Chicago lets say... ok advocate employees) If one thinks Christ had a free ride than its payback time If one thinks Christ has been a pillar of OL than its about being fair.. Everyone has different views but the money and numbers do not lie... OL MUST generate Big time revenue from this place! More fireman and cops better services... Maybe even a free festival instead of an audit fesitval
Sandra Bury June 06, 2012 at 10:12 AM
The board voted to table the issue until their questions were answered. It was therefore removed from the agenda and not subject to public comment. There will be an opportunity for comment, have no worries.
Sandra Bury June 06, 2012 at 10:16 AM
The village board was asking for almost exactly that. The response from Advocate was to make parking free.
Sandra Bury June 06, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Anthony, their own literature says they have 5500 associates and of that, about 11% live in Oak Lawn. I was surprised at the low percentage.
fred wiese June 06, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Oak Lawn Guy = Got It = too much mean going around and we need more flowers and thank youses Good word huh
anthony June 06, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Mr Duhig said it right . Studies can say anything they are steered to say . Since I had the same thought process about the validity.I am glad to see Mr Duhig had the same thought 3 weeks ago ..
osp June 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Zurek and Tara where do you get your information from? Zurek have you ever attended a meeting or do you just sit in front of your computer and rant? Go to a meeting see what is happening as to why no one was allowed to speak. There is a point of order to these meetings. You would sue to speak at a meeting? Really? Again where have any of the commissioners they are against this project? Zurek where do you work? Christ? Why don't you go to a meeting and when you are told you can't speak because no one is being allowed to speak tell them you are going to file a lawsuit? Why is Advocate Christ making it a point about how many patients were turned away last year when this was in the works since 2007 but they decided to delay it? Tara I will ask you the same question as Zurek do you work at Christ? Where has Advocate been for the last 5 years when this project was brought before the P&D? Back then it was PROJECT 2012. Now it is PROJECT 2015. And because they want a fast pass of this now the board is supposed to bend over backwards. As far as the P&D board is concerned, they get a very small stipend for what they do. All trustees have a say as to who is on the board with most of the appointments coming from the Mayor himself. Also Tara why don't you go to the board meeting and sit through the meeting instead of complaining on the internet which is an easy way out.
Matthew Howe June 07, 2012 at 01:32 AM
What people tend to overlook is how many people and money Christ brings in to Oak Lawn. People eat, fill their gas tank, and even buy gifts when visting people in the hospital. It also puts the city on a map because every advertisement for Christ is like free publicity for Oak Lawn
J. J. Zurek June 07, 2012 at 05:21 AM
See Lorraine this is why I don't like blogs, whoever OSP is, I might have hit a nerve or something. For your information "OSP" I know more about Roberts Rules of Order then most residents of Oak Lawn. I know all about tabling items, I know all about roll call votes verses by acclimation votes. I don't hide behind initials and I don't rant. I also go to great lengths not to attack anyone personally, yes "OPS" if there was a meeting, and I was not allowed to speak and the floor was open and I was denied, if that is not a violation of my 1st Amendment rights what is ? "OPS" this is a blog, people are supposed to voice their opinions, and that is exactly what I did. If you read any and all of my responses you will see they are directly attributed to the previous postings. The comment was made about how many residents of Christ live in Oak Lawn, my question is how many Village Employees live in Oak Lawn. The very bottom line here is the Village of Oak Lawn either needsor wants Advocate Christ to pay and or contribute some money to the Village, so why not just sit down with the Executives of Advocate Christ and say we need "X" amount of money from you on an annual basis becasue of "X" "Y" & "Z". The Officials of Oak Lawn really have a lot of explaining to do anyway. They claim people and corporations are ripping off the Village, they hire lawyers at the Tax Payer's expense, they supposedly find wrong doing, they supposedly sign some confidential agreement, TO BE CONTINUED
J. J. Zurek June 07, 2012 at 05:46 AM
I truly believe that the agreement is not actually binding, private individuals can agree to keep things confidential, I am extremely certain Units of Local Governments need to comply with Freedom of Information Statutes. I am really surprised that the Southtown Star and/or the Sun-Times didn't already file a freedom of information request, there must really be some humdinger information for all the noise that was made to become as quiet as a church mouse. I believe when the smoke clears, the expansion will be completed, now that Advocate Christ was just recognized as being in the top 10 or top 100 whatever and no "OSP" I don't work for the hospital, and if you remotely think that I was ranting, you are a very poor excuse for a kettle calling the pot black. If you read the previous comments it was said, Mr. Steve Radice would not let someone speak, it did not say the item was stricken from the agenda so not comments from the floor was necessary. Ergo in closing I am ready willing and able to debate anyone any time I sit down and put pen to paper, if I feel that strongly about something, and I sign my name too. The only time you will see JJZ if I am communicating with a friend or a colleague, who knows my identity. Their is an old adage that says "The Truth Hurts" and there is a lot of truth to that statement.
Steve Radice June 07, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Dear J.J Zurek, "I apologize, but I don't know you" a fellow commissioner of mine contacted me yesterday to tell me I wasn't well liked in the comments of the Patch - after reading your many comments about me and the commission {which I happen to respect} I will gladly sit down with you and explain my / our reasoning for not re-opening the public hearing at this past Monday's P&D meeting. I am not in the least bit concerned about law suits or anything like that, I simply feel because of the passion I sense you have about the village, you deserve a more in-depth answer. If you would like to speak or meet with me, please feel free to leave your name and phone number with someone in the Village's office and ask them to forward it to me, I will then call you asap to see if we can schedule a convenient time to meet. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you soon,,, Steve Radice Oak Lawn P&D Commissioner

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