Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Friday evening that a former state senator from northern Illinois will fill the vacant spot on the state board that will decide next week whether St. Elizabeth’s Hospital can move from downtown Belleville to O’Fallon.
J. Bradley Burzinski of Rochelle joins the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board ahead of a meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Bolingbrook, where the board will vote on whether St. Elizabeth’s can move to O’Fallon. The board in January initially rejected the plans, but the hospital resubmitted its application.
Stephanie Dorris with the Oppose The Move campaign said Friday evening that she doesn’t know anything about Burzinski personally, but is generally troubled about how little time he’ll have to study the situation ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
“I don’t know how he could possibly get up to speed that quickly,” Dorris said. “How could you have 72 to 100 hours to grasp the whole project and vote? That would be hard.”
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Board administrator Courtney Avery said Burzinski “has been sent all the materials that will be addressed by the board.”
“He will be able to vote, he’ll have voting rights,” Avery added.
Dorris said she was also bothered by the fact that appointees to the board are allowed to vote on matters before they’re officially confirmed by the state Senate. She said she hopes Rauner’s administration did a better job of vetting Burzinski than they did with his previous appointee to the board.
Richard Burrow III of O’Fallon was appointed to the vacancy but couldn’t assume the post because he didn’t meet eligibility requirements. Burrow is the former chief operating officer of Family Physicians of O’Fallon, a facility affiliated with Memorial Hospital in Belleville. Memorial, which is building a satellite hospital in Shiloh, opposes St. Elizabeth’s proposed move.
Brian Reardon, a spokesman for Hospital Sisters Health System, which operates St. Elizabeth’s, said he was glad Burzinski has public sector experience.
“That’s what you want in a public servant, someone with public sector experience,” he said.
Reardon also said he was glad to hear of the appointment, because it could mean more board members will attend Tuesday’s meeting. At the January meeting that ended in an initial rejection of the proposed move, only five members of the nine-member board attended.
Memorial Hospital officials declined to comment Friday evening.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, who opposes St. Elizabeth’s relocation, said he, too, was concerned that Burzinski was appointed to the board with so little time before Tuesday’s meeting.
“It seems a little unusual that they were so energized to make the appointment this close to the meeting,” Eckert said. “All I ask is that (Burzinski) is fair.”
Burzinski served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1990 to 1993 and in the Illinois Senate from 1993 to 2011. He also was the minority spokesman for the Licensed Activities Committee, which regulates doctors and nurses.
Before serving in the General Assembly, Burzinski worked for farm bureaus in DeKalb and Clinton counties. While he’s lived and worked for the last few decades in northern Illinois, Burzinski has downstate roots. He was born in Christopher in western Franklin County.
Rauner’s announcement praised Burzinski as “a long-time advocate for increasing rural health options” who would “bring a valuable perspective to the board.”