An O’Fallon businessman appointed last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner to serve on a state hospital board is no longer on the board, which will determine whether St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville can relocate to O’Fallon.
Courtney Avery, administrator for the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, said Thursday that Richard Burrow III cannot serve on the board due to a state law that says board members cannot have a spouse, parent, sibling or child who is an employee, agent or under contract with a healthcare facility.
Avery said she didn’t know details about the family member or healthcare facility.
“Mr. Burrow discovered and self-disclosed that he did not meet the statutory requirements to sit on the board,” said Catherine Kelly, press secretary for Rauner. “He voluntarily removed his name from consideration.”
Anne Thomure, spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital, said hospital officials have no issue with Burrow personally. “However, public statements and the haste in filling the board seat raises our concern about the political influence that may be involved,” she said.
Burrow, who was appointed by the governor Friday, was present at the board’s meeting on Monday in Bolingbrook, but did not participate as a board member, Avery said.
“He was not part of the roll call, nor did he vote on any projects,” she said.
Burrow, 59, who couldn’t be reached for comment, currently serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Shaw Management Corp. Prior to that, he was the chief operating officer of Family Physicians of O’Fallon, which is affiliated with Memorial Hospital in Belleville.
Burrow retired in 1999 as the flight commander for the Air Force’s 375th Medical Operations Squadron.
Opponents of St. Elizabeth’s plans to move its hospital to O’Fallon have formed an organization, called Oppose St. Elizabeth’s Move. Stephanie Dorris, a member of the group, said she was pleased to hear Burrow is no longer a board member.
“On one hand, we were excited to hear someone from southern Illinois was appointed,” Dorris said. “We were very concerned about the O’Fallon aspect.”
The City of Belleville has also publicly opposed St. Elizabeth’s plans to move.
Mayor Mark Eckert, who was concerned when he found out an O’Fallon man was appointed to the board, said he hopes state officials use “good judgment” when selecting someone else to serve on the board.
“I would hope there’s no preconceived way of trying to stack the deck,” Eckert said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what they do next.”
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board currently has eight board members with one vacant seat.
Three of the eight members have terms that expired on July 1, 2014. They are James J. Burden of Cook County; Deanna J. Demuzio of Macoupin County; and Richard H. Sewell of Cook County.
Avery said board members with expired terms can still serve on the board “at the will of the governor until reappointed or a new appointment is made.” By law, they can still vote, she said.
Maryann Reese, president of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, said she is hopeful another member will be appointed soon.
“We remain eager to present our project to the review board and hope all members are able to attend when our project is heard again,” Reese said.
On April 21, the state facilities board is set to vote again on St. Elizabeth’s request to relocate its hospital to O’Fallon. In January, the board gave a preliminary denial to the hospital’s move.
At the January hearing, only five board members were present. Under Illinois law, a hospital project needs five favorable votes from the board. The St. Elizabeth’s project got only four “yes” votes from the five board members who were present.
St. Elizabeth’s is asking the 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.
St. Elizabeth’s plans to demolish the current hospital, if no new tenant can be found. Hospital leaders say an outpatient medical campus would remain in downtown Belleville, including an urgent care center, doctor offices, labs and therapy services.