I read State Rep. Jay Hoffman’s recent opinion piece on the unknown future of the current St. Elizabeth’s Hospital facility with skepticism. I appreciate his concern for Belleville and its residents, but his commentary reads more like the writing of a politician rather than a lawyer.
If he were legal counsel for the Hospital Sisters Health System that operates St. Elizabeth’s would he not caution them not to meet with the city while legal action by Belleville was still pending over St. E’s move to O’Fallon?
I’m not a lawyer but I question whether HSHS is obligated to ensure that their property is repurposed to meet the desires of the neighborhood/community as Hoffman suggests. I don’t believe HSHS plans on emptying the building, putting up a “for sale” sign and walking away, but wouldn’t that be within their rights?
His premise that HSHS needs to ensure that people in Belleville have access to health care seems odd. The distance to St. E’s from O’Fallon is about equal to the distance from Belleville to the new St. E’s site in O’Fallon. That would make Hoffman’s assertion that HSHS is turning their backs on Belleville residents erroneous.
When the time is right, I hope representatives from the city and HSHS will be able to work together toward solutions to identified challenges. Until then, please tone down the political rhetoric.
Bill Malec, O’Fallon