Illinois: Muslims in the United States of America are likely to see no solution of one of the their problems in the state of Illinois as the state regulatory board hinted at rejecting a plan to build a Muslim-friendly surgery center in southwest suburban Orland Park.
Nonetheless, several board members said that they sympathize with a problem they did not realize exists: the discomfort that followers of Islam – especially modesty-conscious Muslim women – feel about using any of the existing hospitals, urgent-care centers and surgery centers in the Chicago area. Whereas, proponents said that they have not given up on the project.
Naser Rustom, a Muslim Arab-American, has asked the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to approve a “certificate of need” for a $5.5 million 11,000-square-foot “ambulatory surgical treatment center” with five operating rooms in the former Plunkett’s Furniture store building adjacent to Orland Square Shopping Center.
During a meeting, the board voted unanimously, with one member absent, that it “intends to reject” the application.
The issue will come back to the board for a final decision shortly.
Wearing a modesty scarf over her hair, Gihad Ali of the Arab-American Action Network told the board that after her mother was diagnosed with cancer, her mother was appalled that when she went to a hospital for treatments, male medical personnel and other patients could see her in various stages of undress. She also had to miss many of her normal five-times-a-day prayers because the hospital had no facilities for the ceremonial washing needed beforehand, she said.
While the Bible was available in hospital rooms, Ali said, there was no prayer rug.
She said, “I should not have to leave my religion at the door in order to receive health care services.”
Rustom said that his Preferred Surgicenter would be “the first health care facility in Illinois designed to accommodate the special needs of Muslim-Americans” but would take Muslim and non-Muslim patients alike.
Robin Fina, who would have been manager of the center, said that the center would have had private post-surgery recovery rooms to safeguard patient modesty, would use more modest hospital gowns, and would include washing basins and a prayer room.
She added that the center also would try to connect with female surgeons and hire female staff members to treat female patients, avoiding the Muslim ban against men seeing naked women who are not their wives. It also would try to hire staff members who speak Arabic and the languages spoken by recent immigrants from places such as Iran and Pakistan.
Joseph Hylak-Reinholtz, the project’s attorney, said that two studies concluded that Muslim-Americans have worse health than non-Muslims because of reluctance to go to health care facilities.
Board member Alan Greiman of Wilmette, who is a judge, asked whether surgeons would stop in mid-surgery when a time of prayer came.
Hylak-Reinholtz answered that they would not stop.