Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Offers Timely Solution to Emergency Services Shortage in Lake County
Lake Forest Hospital February 13, 2007
LAKE FOREST, IL – A bill submitted to the state Senate would allow Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to bring much-needed emergency medical services to the north and western portions of Lake County.
The bill, submitted by state Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest), will allow Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to convert its Acute Care Center to a Freestanding Emergency Center at the Grayslake campus. Sharp population growth in the region has driven demand for more emergency services for area residents.
“Every Lake County resident needs access to the best possible care in an emergency situation, regardless of where they live,” Garrett said.
Once the bill is approved, the Grayslake Freestanding Emergency Center could be operational by the end of 2007, according to Thomas J. McAfee, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.
“A freestanding emergency center answers a critical community need in a timely and cost-effective manner,” McAfee said. “With this legislation, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital can quickly expand our Grayslake facility to include 24-hour treatment by emergency physicians and immediately accept ambulance transports from the region. Pending approval of this new designation, we will advance the remaining facets of establishing an emergency center, including the addition of ambulance bays and a landing pad for a helicopter.”
That site has been home to the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Outpatient & Acute Care Center, located at 1475 E. Belvidere Road, for three years. Currently, the center is open 17 hours a day and treats more than 21,000 patients each year and is staffed by Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s board-certified emergency physicians. It offers the hospital’s broadest range of off-site services, including cardiac services, radiology, MRI and CT exams, mammography, laboratory services, physical therapy and other specialties.
Grayslake Mayor Timothy R. Perry endorsed the announcement of the planned facility saying, “Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital has been a valuable addition to the Grayslake community, and in a very short time its Acute Care Center has become a vital health care resource for our residents. The addition of an emergency center will be a tremendous asset, not only for Grayslake, but for all of Lake County. I fully support their proposal.”
Grayslake Fire Chief Don Mobley also is happy about the proposed legislation.
“We’ve been hampered for years by not being able to transport patients to nearby facilities because they were not deemed to be official emergency centers. We will be able to treat patients faster and reduce turn-around time our paramedics spend transporting patients to more-distant facilities and fighting traffic,” Mobley said.
Mobley added, “Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital has an excellent staff, board-certified emergency room doctorsand all the necessary ancillary services. They can take care of anything.”
Members of the hospital’s board of directors praised the plan for addressing a major community need with a modest legislative change that will yield big results.
“People across Lake County need access to medical care in an emergency situation,” said Forrest R. Whittaker, chairman of the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. “We need to expand emergency services in Lake County, and we need to do it as quickly as possible.”
In January, Garrett was named the chair of the Senate Public Health Committee due to her demonstrated commitment to improving health care for Illinois residents.