When negotiations between West Suburban Hospital and Resurrection Health Care were underway, there were many sincere community concerns that were rightfully centered on the many implications?#34;both philosophical and practical?#34;of an independent hospital moving under the auspices of a larger Catholic system.

It is healthy for the community to debate the many nuanced changes that have taken place, or are yet to take place, now that the merger is complete. But one thing we think all should agree on is that the some $70 million West Sub now has to spend on capital improvements and new building projects can be a great benefit to the community.

One of the notable projects on West Sub’s docket is a new emergency department. This is something we support, and see as necessary given overcrowded conditions in that department.

The new department may be constructed within the walls of the existing hospital building. There would be advantages to the hospital if that could be accomplished. Or, the better option may turn out to be building new on adjacent hospital-owned land. That would bring hospital facilities closer to residential neighbors.

Wisely, the hospital is making an early effort to communicate with neighbors directly through letters, and also through this newspaper. We’re also happy to see neighbors joining together to create a forum and a voice for their concerns.

The debacle of many years back when hospital and neighbors were set against each other over construction of the medical center’s professional office building need not be repeated.

That project was one of the first developments to set off full-scale community outrage in Oak Park

Going forward through the summer and into the fall as options begin to take shape, the hospital needs to be open about its plans, and engage in meaningful communication. The neighbors have to be open and realistic about what it means to have a large institution in their neighborhood.

We look forward to the hospital, and the community, working together to make valuable improvements to Oak Park’s largest health care provider.

Yes, no, not maybe

There is something very satisfying about seeing your elected officials take a strong position on issues that are important to you. For many in Oak Park, economic development is an issue that heavily influenced a vote in favor of a particular candidate. We find it dissatisfying, and we would hope others in the community find it so, for elected officials to vote “abstain” on key policy issues.

During a meeting earlier this week, Oak Park Trustees Geoff Baker and Bob Milstein voted to “abstain” on one of the board’s first and most important economic development decisions?#34;whether to try and work with Taxman Corporation on a major Downtown Oak Park development project. Milstein commented after voting that an abstention would count as a yes vote. So, why not simply vote yes? The community at least deserves a public explanation as to why a solid expression of support or rejection wasn’t given.

An abstention, to us, only makes sense when there is a clear conflict of interest. Just randomly plucking an “abstain” vote out of Robert’s Rules of Order just seems to send the message that one doesn’t have the will power to make a solid, independent decision.

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