Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 98-CH-6001 Honorable Dorothy K. Kinnaird, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Theis
On April 2, 1998, the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board (Planning Board) granted Danville HealthCare L.L.C. (Danville HealthCare) a certificate of need to construct an ambulatory surgical treatment center. Plaintiffs sought judicial review of the Planning Board's decision in the circuit court, claiming it was against the manifest weight of the evidence to grant the certificate of need. The circuit court concluded that plaintiffs did not have standing. On appeal, plaintiffs contend that they have standing and that the Planning Board's approval of the certificate of need was against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the following reasons, we affirm.
In 1997, defendant Danville HealthCare applied for a certificate of need to open an ambulatory surgical treatment center (ASTC) in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Danville HealthCare proposed to build an ASTC that would offer a variety of surgical services such as orthopaedic, cardiovascular, gynecological, and otolaryngological. Plaintiffs operate health care facilities in Champaign, Illinois, which is approximately 45 minutes away from Danville. Both Danville HealthCare and plaintiffs are located in health service area (HSA) IV. *fn1
As part of the application process, a public hearing was held to invite comments in favor of and against Danville HealthCare's proposed plan. Those who attended the public hearing were entitled to voice their opinions. Plaintiffs did not participate in this hearing.
On April 2, 1998, the Planning Board held its hearing to consider Danville HealthCare's application. The Illinois Department of Public Health (Department), which had reviewed Danville HealthCare's application materials, submitted a report of its findings and testified at the hearing. A representative from the Department stated that Danville HealthCare failed to comply with approximately 15 of the "necessary criteria" set forth in the regulations and used in reviewing such applications. Danville HealthCare then gave a presentation of its proposal and answered questions from the Planning Board members where many, if not all, of the deficiencies alleged by the Department were addressed. Subsequently, the Planning Board granted the requested certificate of need.
Plaintiffs filed a complaint in the circuit court, contending that the Planning Board's decision to grant the certificate of need was against the manifest weight of the evidence because many of the criteria set forth in the regulations were not met. The circuit court concluded that plaintiffs did not have standing to request judicial review of the administrative agency's decision. The circuit court went on to find that, in any event, the Planning Board's decision was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. This appeal followed.
Before examining the merits, we first must address exactly what is at issue in this appeal. Plaintiffs are not challenging the alleged denial of a certificate of need for which they had applied in order to open their own ASTC in Danville. In fact, the record contains no evidence that plaintiffs' application was denied or, if it was denied, the reasons for that denial. Regardless, this information is irrelevant because the outcome of plaintiffs' application process is not on appeal here.
What is on appeal is plaintiffs' claim that the Planning Board should not have granted Danville HealthCare a certificate of need. That is, plaintiffs are contesting action relating to another entity, and not action taken against themselves. Whether plaintiffs have standing is not so obvious in this situation and, therefore, it is critical that we analyze this important threshold requirement.
Fortunately, we have some guidance from prior cases to aid us in determining whether plaintiffs can survive a standing challenge. Judicial review of the Planning Board's action is provided in the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act (Planning Act), which states, "[a]ny person who is adversely affected by a final decision of the State Board may have such decision judicially reviewed." 20 ILCS 3960/11 (West 1996). We have held that plaintiffs are adversely affected "if, within the administrative record, they are shown to be `competing health care facilities.'" Dimensions Medical Center, Ltd. v. Suburban Endoscopy Center, 298 Ill. App. 3d 93, 98, 697 N.E.2d 1231, 1235 (1998), quoting Condell Hospital v. Health Facilities Planning Board, 161 Ill. App. 3d 907, 933, 515 N.E.2d 750, 768 (1987). See also Advanced Ambulatory, slip op. at 5. In Suburban Endoscopy and Advanced Ambulatory, the plaintiffs were determined to be competing health care facilities because they performed the same or similar services as the applicant and established that patients would be drawn from the plaintiffs' facilities to the applicant's facility. Advanced Ambulatory, slip op. at 7; Suburban Endoscopy, 298 Ill. App. 3d at 95, 98-99, 697 N.E.2d at 1235.
Plaintiffs argue that they are adversely affected because they are competitors of Danville HealthCare. However, their citations to the administrative record contain no evidence to support such a claim. After examining the cited materials, we find that there is no evidence that plaintiffs perform the same or similar services Danville HealthCare intends to provide, or that Danville HealthCare will draw patients away from plaintiffs.
Some of plaintiffs' record citations refer to "Carle," but it is unclear whether these are references to plaintiffs or to Carle Clinic Association, which is an entity located in Danville that is unrelated to plaintiffs. Consequently, these materials have no value as to this issue.
Plaintiffs also point to statements of a doctor who spoke at the hearing as evidence that Danville HealthCare would target patients currently being referred to plaintiffs. We find that his statements regarding how many people from Vermilion County went to plaintiffs' facility last year tell us nothing about the type of services those patients were seeking or whether Danville HealthCare intended to target those individuals.
As evidence that plaintiffs and Danville HealthCare would perform the same or similar services, plaintiffs cited to two referral forms and a letter from defendant Dr. Pliura to plaintiffs. The referral forms list several medical facilities as well as plaintiffs, making it unclear which, if any, of the services provided by plaintiffs would be duplicated by Danville HealthCare or whether patients would be taken away from plaintiffs and sent to Danville HealthCare. The letter also is unavailing as it states that any impact Danville HealthCare on plaintiffs' facility would be "negligible."
Finally, plaintiffs claim the record shows that referrals currently being sent to plaintiffs will be sent to Danville HealthCare. Statements were made during the hearing that some doctors referring patients to Danville HealthCare also expressed that they would refer patients to the ASTC plaintiffs were proposing to open in Danville. Whether patients would be referred to plaintiffs' proposed ASTC has no bearing on whether patients would be drawn away from plaintiffs' facility in Champaign. Similarly, Dr. L. Royce Larsen's letter confirming the number of ...