One day after the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial urging its disbandment, the state's graft-plagued medical-infrastructure planning soviet refused a request for the third time in five years to allow a new hospital in a town local news media and elected officials say is in dire need of one.
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board declared Tuesday that under their certificate-of-need demographic statistical alchemy, the Chicagoland suburb of Plainfield just isn't going to get big enough anytime soon to support its own hospital (despite investors' claims to the contrary), so residents there will just have to buck up and suffer a while longer. According to the Trib:
Edward Hospital in (nearby) Naperville was seeking the permission of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board to build a 162-bed full service hospital costing $234 million. Edward contends that the hospital is necessary because of the area's rapid growth and because one-third of the patients at its crowded Naperville campus come from the Plainfield area.
Edward cited population projections that showed the hospitals in nearby Bolingbrook, Joliet and Aurora do not have an adequate number of hospital beds to meet future demand, particularly for expectant mothers or the mentally ill.
But Edward conceded population projections did not support the number of hospital beds it proposed to build.
"In our opinion it is better to approve possibly (extra beds) than to know that there are needs not met," said Dr. Alan Kaplan, Edward's chief medical officer.
The Tribune's denunciation of the IHFPB on Monday in fact had nothing to do with the Plainfield situation. The editors were angry with the agency for threatening to deny a permit to build a proton-therapy cancer-treatment center because the site for the new facility was only six miles ("Too close!" says the IHFPB) from another one already in existence. Nevertheless, their CON-damnation was pretty open-ended and all-encompassing: "It's a vestige of a command-and-control era of health care, and this page has argued that it should be disbanded. It squelches competition in the name of managed growth."
Of course, anytime government's ruthless incompetence gets brutish and boorish enough in America, or rises to a level where people's lives might be endangered, it won't be long until folks, rightly or wrongly, start picking up gangrenous whiffs of conspiracy and intrigue.
Plainfield is no different.
There's the standard, well-heeled opposition from the other government-approved health cartels in the region vying evermore to suppress competition - which, as the John Locke Foundation's Roy Cordato has amply demonstrated, is par for the CON course. Reported the Chicago Daily Herald, "Edward's hospital proposal faces resistance from Bolingbrook Adventist Hospital, Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora and Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. Both Adventist and Rush-Copley submitted letters Tuesday in opposition of the Edward Hospital project."
But beyond that, one could certainly be forgiven for entertaining the possibility that other dark forces are at work here.
The IHFPB is still no doubt collectively possessed by feverish vendetta fantasies resulting from the septic wound inflicted upon its image when Edward Hospital's own CEO dropped dime on one of the agency capos for trying to extort kickbacks in exchange for project approval. (See also: Tony Rezko)
The editors of the Naperville Sun smell something funny, but they're not laughing:
You still mean to tell us, oh wise ones at the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, that Plainfield -- one of the fastest-growing communities in one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation -- doesn't have enough need for a hospital of its own? Right.
Try telling that to the Plainfield families caught in traffic trying to get to Naperville's Edward Hospital or one of the other full-service hospitals in Aurora or Joliet that are miles and precious minutes away.
Twice before the petition has been denied. We're sure it had nothing to do with Edward CEO Pam Davis blowing the whistle on the pay-to-play-on-steroids corruption at the IHFPB. Her defiance probably brought down Tony Rezko, after all. Nah, that couldn't have anything to do with it. What did the board say last time, out of the blue? That Edward should build a women's hospital? What the hell is that??!!!
Sorry, but we're passionate about the blatant unfairness Edward has had to endure for years. Meanwhile, the Bolingbrook hospital was approved, built and opened. A Joliet hospital's wish to move to New Lenox is granted. And other proposals sail through.
The "women's hospital" they mention is a reference to IHFPB acting-Chairwoman Susana Lopatka's surreal earlier demand that Edward build a female-only facility in Plainfield instead of a general hospital that treats dudes, too. Edward responded that a gender-specific hospital probably wouldn't fly economically or regulatorily, but offered "two alternatives...(to) satisfy the need for obstetrics services while also providing a full-service facility in Plainfield," reported the Joliet Herald-News. "The alternatives, which include increasing the obstetrics and gynecology beds while decreasing medical/surgical beds, were detailed in a letter to the planning board July 22."
Comrade Lopatka said screw that and voted no anyway. She later wryly averred that, based on the outpouring of community support in favor of Edward's proposed hospital, it was obvious the bourgeois capitalist falsifier-exploiters had "done an excellent job of marketing."
"I'm sure every resident of Plainfield believes they are medically underserved," she said in the Trib, then added: "I do not believe that is the case."
Winston Churchill once famously bon muttered that "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Clearly, Ms. Lopatka and the rest of her bureaucratic Illinois CON artists have it in mind that "those other forms" deserve a little historical rehabilitation - or at least a second opinion.