A second public hearing for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s proposed move has been relocated to an East St. Louis church, where the pastor has written a letter in support of the hospital’s plans to relocate to O’Fallon.
The public hearing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church at 2235 Bond Ave., according to a statement on the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
The hearing had been originally scheduled to be held at Belleville West High School. In September, the Belleville District 201 School Board passed a resolution to formally oppose the relocation of St. Elizabeth's outside the city limits.
In a letter dated Oct. 27, Rev. Curtis Levingston, the pastor of Mount Zion, wrote in support of hospital’s move. The letter is one of hundreds attached to the hospital’s online application to the state board requesting permission to close the Belleville facility and build a new 144-bed hospital just off Interstate 64 at Green Mount Road.
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“We believe that in order for St. Elizabeth’s to continue their healing ministry, they must change with the times and be allowed to build a new, modern hospital along I-64,” Levingston wrote. “The location they have chosen will actually be easier for many of our residents to reach because of the close proximity to the interstate.”
Stephanie Dorris, an organizer of the Oppose the Move: Save St. E’s Belleville group, said she does not think the new location for the public hearing will be a neutral spot — especially if the move from Belleville West was because the location was deemed to be controversial.
Brian Reardon, of Hospital Sisters Health System, St. Elizabeth's parent company, said he learned about the change of location from the state board’s website.
No one could be reached at the state board late Thursday.
About 600 people packed Lindenwood University in Belleville’s auditorium for the first public hearing on Oct. 2. Dozens of people who signed up to comment were not able to do so because of a time constraints.
Supporters of the project have said the hospital needs a new building to offer 21st-century medicine; opponents have said the hospital is abandoning Belleville, where it has offered medical services for about 140 years.
The hearing is organized by the state board. It is open to the public to allow written and/or verbal comment relevant to the project. All comments should be printed or typed on two pieces of 8.5-by-11-inch paper, according to the board’s website.
The state board is scheduled to consider St. Elizabeth’s application at its Dec. 16 meeting in Bolingbrook. The deadline for submission of all public comments related to this project is Nov. 26.