St. Elizabeth's Hospital set to make 'major announcement'

News-DemocratJune 24, 2014 

A shuttle near the front of St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

DERIK HOLTMANN — Derik Holtmann/BND

St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville plans to make what it is calling a "major announcement" Wednesday about the future of healthcare in the metro-east.

"St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and its affiliate Hospital Sisters Health System, will announce how it plans to deliver healthcare services in the future to the residents of Southwestern Illinois at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday," according to a news release from the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the hospital declined to provide details about the announcement.

In November 2011, HSHS purchased 106 acres in O'Fallon for $18 million. The hospital announced plans at that time to build a $300 million, 144-bed hospital north of Interstate 64 and west of Green Mount Road.

However, there has been no progress since then, and the hospital has declined to say whether it plans to keep its Belleville hospital open.

St. Elizabeth's Hospital will need to file for a certificate of need with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, a step necessary before any new medical facility can be constructed.

The Health Facilities and Services Review Board said Tuesday afternoon that St. Elizabeth's has not applied for the certificate of need.

St. Elizabeth's Hospital and HSHS leadership, physicians and community leaders will be at the announcement Wednesday, according to the news release.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said Tuesday afternoon that he was not aware of the announcement and was not invited to attend.

However, O'Fallon Mayor Gary Graham said he was notified Tuesday afternoon and planned to attend.

Graham said he did not know what the announcement was about, but he said, "If I'd have to guess ... that they're moving forward with applying for the (certificate of need)."

St. Elizabeth's administrators said in 2012 they had no intention of leaving Belleville.

In April, the city of Belleville hired a Chicago attorney to help keep the hospital from leaving town.

At that time, Eckert said that hospital leaders had not been clear about the future of St. Elizabeth's in Belleville. Eckert said city leaders want to maintain hospital services in Belleville, and he wanted the hospital to know the city wants to help them redevelop the current site in downtown Belleville.

Memorial Hospital, the other hospital located in Belleville, in recent years has continued to expand its Belleville campus and in January began construction on a 94-bed, all-private room hospital on Cross Street in Shiloh.

Contact reporter Maria Hasenstab at mhasenstab@bnd.com or 618-239-2460.

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