URBANA -- Carle Hospital just got the green light to expand. It says it needs more space to treat people from out-of-town. The state board which regulates medical facilities made the decision Wednesday. WCIA-3's Lindsey Gordon has more.
The board was originally going to deny the expansion because there was a question about the actual need for more beds. But, Carle was able to prove it serves enough people from out-of-town to justify an expansion.
The hospital will add 48 more beds to the top floor of Carle Tower. They'll be used for medical and surgical patients. They need the space to treat people they say have nowhere else to go.
"It's the access to sub-specialty physician providers, a pretty broad diversity that's bringing a different population base to this particular hospital."
It accounts for 40% of patients it says it treats. In July, Presence Health wrote a letter to the board stating the expansion is bad for Central Illinois. It doesn't want more beds than there are people to fill them.
It could divert patients to Carle and ultimately force Presence to close. A Champaign County healthcare advocacy group has those same concerns.
"It's always important to emphasize the need for competition. It helps us have better healthcare options, so we definitely want to make sure that that doesn't change the dynamics in our area, that people have the choice of where they can go."
Carle says it isn't concerned about negatively affecting Presence.
"We see lots of value in the Presence system and some of the specialty services that they really focus on."
Presence now says it plans to expand strategically with vein and vascular services. It will continue to work with other providers, including Carle.
Advocates say it's too soon to tell how the expansion will affect patients served by both hospitals, but it's important to stay engaged.
"Our community is small enough that it's really important what goes on with the larger providers."
Carle says the project will cost more than $17 million. Construction is expected to start in the fall with completion at the beginning of 2016.
URBANA -- Just one month after being turned down, Carle has been given the go-ahead to finish its nine-story tower. The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted 7 - 1 Wednesday. This allows Carle to add 48 more medical/surgical beds. In July, the board issued an "intent to deny" to Carle. Construction is set to begin this fall. It's expected to be completed in January 2016.
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