A Chicago-based nonprofit group that provides treatment for substance use disorders and mental health conditions has announced plans for a new behavioral health complex in Itasca that would support families in DuPage and other collar counties.
Haymarket Center wants to buy a Holiday Inn hotel on the west side of I-290 and Irving Park Road and convert it into a roughly 200-bed facility. No tax dollars would be involved.
The proposed Haymarket DuPage would provide a full continuum of substance abuse and mental health treatment, as well as primary care, for those 18 and older.
"The goal here was to establish something where families can have treatment close to home," Haymarket President and CEO Dan Lustig said during a Tuesday meeting with the Daily Herald Editorial Board.
Haymarket has served more than 2,000 people from the collar counties in the past two years. Lustig said having a DuPage facility would keep suburban patients closer to their family support system, which helps with post-treatment transition.
"We're really looking at our program out in DuPage as a beacon of hope for families," he said.
Haymarket plans to submit its application to Itasca next month but already has discussed its proposal with some village officials.
If the plan is approved, Haymarket would spend roughly $1.5 million to remodel the interior of the building at 860 W. Irving Park Road. The facility would provide inpatient and outpatient care and have beds for treatment and recovery.
Lustig said the plan will create "recovery home beds" that the state drastically needs. "Expanding access to care is what we hope to do here," he said.
Tuesday's announcement comes more than a year after the Wheaton City Council rejected a request to open a Haymarket site in that city. Neighbors flooded city hall with hundreds of letters and emails opposing that proposal for a facility in a busy shopping district.
For this project, Haymarket already has the endorsement of more than 60 elected officials, government agencies, health care providers, community organizations and individuals.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said the suburbs are in the midst of a public health crisis. In 2018, there were 98 confirmed deaths in DuPage from heroin, fentanyl and other opioids.
Cronin said the county is committed to addressing the epidemic and increasing treatment options is a primary goal.
"This is so compelling -- the need in our community -- that I am enthusiastically supportive of it (Haymarket's proposal)," Cronin said. "I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to make this a reality."
One challenge in getting the project approved, he said, will be to separate the fact from fiction.
"When people first hear about a heroin treatment facility in their town, the initial reaction of most people, knowing human nature, is that they're going to be opposed to it," Cronin said.
He said those who seek treatment at Haymarket aren't violent criminals and aren't the "dregs of society."
"These are our neighbors, our family members, our friends, our co-workers," Cronin said. "So I think it's vitally important that people understand it."
Officials say the roughly 7-acre site was chosen because it's in a business park with ample parking and is at least 600 feet from the nearest homes.
"It's a secure location," Cronin said.
County board member Greg Hart, co-chairman of DuPage's Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education Taskforce, said the panel has worked to find policies, initiatives and programs to battle the opioid epidemic. He said one critical piece is how to get addicts the help they need.
"Right now, there aren't as many options. They have to leave the county to get them," Hart said. "I think through Haymarket coming into DuPage and their investment in our community, it will go a long way to getting our residents the treatment they need."