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St. Elizabeth’s Hospital decision delayed

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 Hospital officials have decided to defer presenting their plans for a replacement hospital in O’Fallon, so the state board will not vote on the hospital’s certificate of need Tuesday as previously scheduled.

Brian Reardon, director of communications and public relations at St. Elizabeth’s parent company, Hospital Sisters Health System, said Monday night the hospital and its parent company decided to present at a future meeting because only five members of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will be present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Maryann Reese, president and chief executive officer of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, stated in a news release: “Because of unforeseen circumstances, only five of the eight members of the HFSRB were to be present for the meeting. So, we asked the board to defer consideration of our project until January, when we anticipate more members will be present to vote on this important project.”

Five of the eight active members board must be present for quorum. For a project to be approved, at least five board members must vote in favor of it. The state board usually consists of nine members, but one member died earlier this year.

St. Elizabeth’s will request the state board consider hearing the project at its board meeting scheduled for Jan. 27.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said he will not travel to Bolingbrook Tuesday, since the vote is deferred.

St. Elizabeth’s is asking the state board for approval to close its 303-bed hospital in downtown Belleville and open a replacement 144-bed 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 hospital, making the total cost of the project about $300 million.

Hospital officials said that the outdated Belleville hospital building will be razed, if no new tenant can be found.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.

Since St. Elizabeth’s announced its plans in June, hundreds of people have spoken at public hearings and written letters of support and in opposition to the project.

Local leaders have written to the state board to express their opinions about St. Elizabeth’s proposal.

Oppose:

Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis, wrote: “The residents of my district are well served by the existing hospital dispersion, which included two quality hospitals in Belleville: Memorials Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Though I only represent part of Belleville, neighboring rural communities to the south, like Freeburg, Smithton and Millstadt rely on its healthcare resources. Allowing St. Elizabeth’s to move from its location of more than 140 years would considerably affect these smaller towns and reduce their access to quality healthcare.”

State Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, wrote: “An expenditure of nearly $300 million to build a facility further away from some of our most medically underserved in areas such as Belleville, East St. Louis, Cahokia and Centreville is directly counter to the nature of this significant policy and industry shift… While I can appreciate St. Elizabeth’s vision for the future, I ask hospital leadership to consider a new plan that would modernize the current Belleville facility and upgrade services.”

Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, wrote: “I would urge the board require St. Elizabeth to consider a new plan that would reinvest these dollars in the current Belleville site. Recently, your board approved a project that ensured Memorial Hospital in Belleville reinvest and commit to its Belleville facility while a C.O.N. was granted to build a satellite Memorial Hospital East in the general vicinity of St. Elizabeth’s proposed facility. This ensured Memorial’s commitment to access to healthcare in the Belleville area, while allowing them to expand to other areas of the county. St. Elizabeth’s should be required to explore the same option.”

Support:

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, wrote: “The new strategic location will have quick highway access providing the entire region greater access to care. A new state-of-the-art facility will allow St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to provide an increase in excellent care to patients in the region as they have successfully done in Highland, Illinois. And finally this investment will provide a desperately needed economic boost to the area.”

Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, newly elected U.S. representative for Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, wrote: “The constituents I will be representing in Congress will benefit from having a state-of-the-art hospital centrally located along I-64 in St. Clair County. Residents in Illinois should not have to go to Missouri to access world class health care. The replacement hospital that St. Elizabeth’s proposes will not only bring the latest medical technology to Southwestern Illinois, will also help attract health care in the metro-east.”

Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, wrote: “I applaud St. Elizabeth’s decision to replace their 60 year old hospital with a state-of-the-art regional medical center that will serve patients from across Southwestern Illinois. If approved, the new hospital will provide a much needed economic boost to our local economy and set a foundation for future economic growth. In fact, Scott Air Force Base will benefit greatly by having the hospital it partners with closer to where its military and civilian workers live. The medical residency program sponsored by Scott AFB and St. Elizabeth’s will have an excellent opportunity to flourish at a new, modern facility.”

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