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State board to vote Tuesday on St. Elizabeth’s proposed O’Fallon hospital

An artist's rendering of St. Elizabeth's Hospital's plans for the O'Fallon site.
An artist's rendering of St. Elizabeth's Hospital's plans for the O'Fallon site. Provided/BND

St. Elizabeth’s officials will hear one of two outcomes at Tuesday’s state board hearing in Bolingbrook: Plans to build a replacement hospital in O’Fallon will either be approved or the hospital will receive an intent to deny.

If five of the eight people serving on the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board agree with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and its parent company, Hospital Sisters Health System, that a new 144-bed hospital is warranted, the project will be approved.

However, if five board members fail to agree, the plan will receive an “intent to deny.” In that case, hospital officials still would get a chance to make their presentation in front of the board at a future date, possibly making changes to the plan.

St. Elizabeth’s is asking the state board for a certificate of need to allow it to close its 303-bed hospital in downtown Belleville and open a replacement hospital off Interstate 64 on North Green Mount Road. The cost of the project is $253 million. St. Elizabeth’s also plans to build an ambulatory care center adjacent to the new proposed hospital, making the total cost of the project about $300 million.

Supporters of the project have said the O’Fallon location will be easier for more patients to access. However, those who oppose the project have accused the hospital of abandoning Belleville where it has operated almost 140 years.

Hospital officials said that the outdated Belleville hospital building will be razed, if no new tenant can be found. To address changing medical needs, an outpatient medical campus would remain in downtown Belleville, including an urgent care center, doctor offices, labs and therapy services.

St. Elizabeth’s President and Chief Executive Officer Maryann Reese will address the board at Tuesday’s hearing.

In addition, other subject matter experts will be available to answer any questions the board may ask about the project, according to Brian Reardon, director of communications and public relations at HSHS.

During public comment, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, Oppose the Move organizer Stephanie Dorris and Memorial Hospital President and CEO Mark Turner, plan to speak against the plan.

Bolingbrook is a four-to-five hour drive from Belleville, which prevented Oppose the Move leaders from renting a bus to fill with residents against the project.

“People would literally have to board a bus at 4 a.m.,” Dorris explained. She said the hundreds of people who showed up to the two public hearings in Belleville to speak against the project, in addition to those who wrote the state board and signed a petition against the proposal, speak louder than the 50-100 people who would have filled a bus to attend the meeting.

The state board usually consists of nine members, but one member died earlier this year, according to state board administrator Courtney Avery.

At least five of the eight board members must be present Tuesday for a quorum to be reached. At least five votes, regardless of how many board members are present, must be cast in favor of the project, for the project to receive approval, Avery said.

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