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News: Public Hearing Shows Strong Support for Centegra Open Heart Program

Over one hundred and fifty people turned out to support Centegra Health System’s application for a Certificate of Need to develop an open heart surgery program at a public hearing held today in McHenry, Illinois. The hearing was called by the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board at the request of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital who opposed the project in McHenry County. The hearing showed there was strong support within the community for this program.

“The public hearing held today demonstrated the strong support this community feels for bringing an open heart surgery program to McHenry County,” stated Michael S. Eesley, President and CEO of Centegra Health System. “We heard from so many people who shared their experiences about heart disease and the need to have this important program available close to home.”

Public testimony in support of the project came from all parts of the community. It included leaders like Senator Pam Althoff who shared her own story about heart disease and the impact it had on her family. Richard Tobiasz, Spring Grove Fire Chief, also shared his personal story of heart disease and testified on the need to bring such a vital service closer to home so that members of our community don’t have to travel out of the county. Several former open heart patients talked about their experiences of having to travel out of the county for open heart care and the hardships it created for their families.

Bryan Foy, MD, a surgeon with Cardiac Surgery Associates, spoke about the need for this service in McHenry County and the experience that his surgical team will bring to the Centegra program. CSA is the largest surgical group in the state and annual they perform over 3000 cases. “We will bring a depth of experience to the Centegra program that most programs do not have,” Foy noted. A number of area physicians spoke of the need for an open heart program in McHenry County reiterating the importance of this program in our community.

Much of Centegra’s testimony focused on the need within the community and the careful planning that has gone the program. Aaron Shepley, Senior Vice President and Site Administrator at Centegra Northern Illinois Medical Center testified how Centegra has developed its program following the state guidelines and meeting growth goals for the heart program. “We have built our cardiac catheterization and angioplasty programs step by step in accordance with state regulations and, today, we are at the point where we can clearly demonstrate the need for this program in McHenry County,” Shepley noted

Throughout the course of the hearing, dozens of community members presented written and spoken testimony in support of the project. The testimony becomes part of the official record for the project and will be reviewed by the state. On April 25, Centegra’s open heart application will be reviewed by the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board at its regular meeting in Springfield.

With state approval the program can move forward very quickly. “Because Centegra has been developing its program carefully following state guidelines the steps to create the open heart program will not be costly or time consuming,” Shepley noted.