DANVILLE — OSF HealthCare officials believe elimination of a two-block stretch of Logan Avenue to accommodate a new Carle medical facility would mean a longer journey for ambulances heading to the OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center emergency room, several blocks to the north.
Dr. Jared Rogers, Sacred Heart’s president, said the proposed road closure would significantly impact access to the medical center and create “a critical delay” for patients seeking care, particularly emergency care.
“This additional time could be the difference between life and death for some of our patients,” he said. “OSF HealthCare believes that such a risk must be addressed before any road closure can be considered.”
In late August, Carle announced plans to build a roughly $50 million medical facility in Danville that would consolidate all of its existing services at one location overlooking Ellsworth Park.
The proposed 17-acre site would displace multiple buildings, vacant lots, and a two-block section of Logan Avenue, from North Street to Madison Street.
OSF officials are concerned because the elimination of that section of road would disrupt what is now a direct route from U.S. 150, located to the west of the city, to its facility.
From the Logan Avenue and West Main Street (U.S. 150) intersection, it’s one mile to OSF’s emergency room — a roughly three-minute drive, according to Google maps — with no stoplights and two four-way stops.
If that section of Logan is eliminated, traffic coming from the west would have to turn north at Gilbert Street, one street farther to the east, then find a place to backtrack to the west to reach Sacred Heart at 812 N. Logan Ave.
— Turning onto Madison Street off of Gilbert to get to Logan would add approximately one-third of a mile and another minute to the journey and require passage through three stoplights and two four-way stops, according to Google maps.
— Turning onto Fairchild Street instead would add more than half a mile and another minute to the trip, and would require going through several stoplights, including at two of the busier intersections in Danville: Main/Gilbert and Gilbert/Fairchild, according to Google maps.
Rogers said OSF is urging the city officials to look at alternatives to closing North Logan Avenue.
“OSF HealthCare expects to be involved in all parts of the city’s planning and review process for this project,” he said. “We will continue to advocate for a solution that maintains the existing level of access for our patients and mission partners.”
At city council meetings, a handful of Danville residents have publicly expressed their disapproval of plans to close a section of Logan.
Vince Koers said that Carle’s original plan was not to close Logan Avenue, and that while he loves the idea of Carle building a new facility in that spot, he doesn’t like the way they are doing it.
In response to News-Gazette Media’s request for comment on this subject, Carle spokeswoman Laura Mabry said it’s the “preliminary plan” to close a portion of Logan Avenue, just two blocks. She said Carle is continuing to work with Vermilion Advantage and the city of Danville to figure out what would be best for the community.
In response to concerns about OSF’s potential situation, Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said the stoplight at Logan and West Main would be eliminated, which would reduce the total number of lights coming from the west.
He said the Madison Street route would likely be the designated route, and according to a study Carle has done regarding the issue, that route would be only 16 seconds to 30 seconds longer than the current route.
But for some, any more time is too much time.
Pastor Phil Jackson, an OSF employee, expressed his concerns at the Oct. 15 council meeting, saying the fastest and best route for trauma victims or patients suffering cardiac arrest or strokes is Logan Avenue.
Retired state Rep. Bill Black also spoke at that meeting, explaining that when he suffered an emergency cardiac situation every second counted on his way to the emergency room.
Jackson said minutes count in such life-and-death situations.
“I believe those minutes are golden to people rushing there,” said Jackson, who also emphasized that not everyone is rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance.
He said he wouldn’t throw away even one second in an emergency.
“It’s not good judgment closing the most direct route,” he said. “I don’t believe any delay is a good thing.”