Before blessing the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital on Wednesday, Bishop Edward Braxton, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville, urged a crowd to remember the mission of the soon-to-be-former Belleville facility.
The hospital will relocate from Belleville, where the hospital had a presence for more than 140 years, to the Interstate 64 corridor off Green Mount Road. While roughly 1,000 employees will work in O’Fallon, about 200 will remain in Belleville.
The bishop told a group of local and hospital leaders that as the hospital relocates to the “more affluent” area of O’Fallon, they should never forget the elderly and poor who still live closer to the Belleville location. All patients of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, he added, should be revered.
Attendees of the blessing ceremony included local civic leaders, Hospital Sisters Health System St. Elizabeth’s Sisters and board members, as well as hospital leaders.
Braxton blessed the entrance to the hospital and proceeded to bless areas all over the five-floor facility.
Sister Maureen O’Connor, Provincial Superior of Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, carried a container of soil from the groundbreaking of the new facility in June 2015. She reflected on the first sisters who opened a primitive one-story facility in Belleville in 1875. The sisters there could only handle six patients at a time.
O’Connor said the facility “stands as a monument” to those who have been part of the ministry for 142 years.
St. Elizabeth, a princess of the kingdom of Hungary, now modern-day Slovakia, was a charitable 13th century Franciscan known for establishing a hospital and caring for the poor and sick until her death at the age of 24.
An open house for the public to tour the new facility, at One St. Elizabeth’s Boulevard, is set for 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 7 and 8.
The new facility includes a health center where medical specialists will be located.
The new hospital opens Nov. 4 in O’Fallon.