The decree is still final, but for the kids’ sakes they’ve decided to get along and see if something positive can still come from their long union.
Leaders from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Belleville are no longer fighting in court. The city spent $254,610 trying to halt the hospital’s move to O’Fallon, first in front of the state hospital board and then in circuit court. A circuit judge tossed Belleville’s suit in January by ruling the city did not have standing to fight the move.
So here we are in April. St. Elizabeth’s has a new CEO in Peg Sebastian and it is apparently time for new beginnings. Sebastian and Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert on Tuesday announced the city and hospital are reunited, and it feels so good. They are talking about a future for the old Belleville hospital other than a big empty spot where their 140-year relationship once was.
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The hospital still has a mission to provide for the health care needs of Belleville and surrounding communities. The city needs those services and whatever jobs can be retained. St. Elizabeth’s needs the city’s help to make sensible changes in late 2017 when it moves from its aging, 303-bed Belleville hospital into its $253 million, 144-bed O’Fallon facility.
The task force announced by Sebastian and Eckert will include city, community and hospital leaders to look at the Belleville site’s future. The state mandated that St. Elizabeth’s keep 200 of its 1,245 employees in Belleville for two years, but the city has no guarantees beyond that. Will there be an urgicare facility, medical offices or some other use for the large campus?
Reconciliation and cooperation is the best course, since we couldn’t stop this d-i-v-o-r-c-e.