St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville plans to break ground on its new facility in O’Fallon on Friday, despite a lawsuit filed by the city of Belleville seeking to overturn the state’s approval of the project.
Belleville City Council voted early last month to give city attorney Garrett Hoerner the authority to file suit on behalf of the city, and on May 21 he filed it.
Hoerner and Mark Silberman, the consultant hired by the city, could not immediately be reached for comment. Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert declined comment.
The city had 35 days from the date the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board approved the project — April 21 — to file its complaint for administrative review. All eight members of the board in attendance at the April meeting approved the hospital’s project.
The city’s suit alleges that the health board’s approval “adversely affects access to healthcare for the health service area, and particularly city residents, including but not limited to Eckert, who regularly uses the health care facilities within the geographic area.”
In response to the city’s decision to file suit, St. Elizabeth’s issued the following statement: “We are disappointed the city of Belleville is unwilling to accept the unanimous decision of the review board to approve our project. We have only recently been served with the city’s complaint and are in the process of reviewing it.”
The statement also referenced the “nearly nine-month process involving thousands of pages of documents supporting the need for this project.”
“St. Elizabeth’s has received the required regulatory authority to proceed with the project and is taking the appropriate steps to ensure its new, state-of-the art medical center is built on time and on budget,” the statement read.
The city’s complaint states the board’s decision to approve the project is “not consistent with the public interest” as it impacts health care services to the area’s most needy as well as negatively impacts the economic stability of the city of Belleville.
St. Elizabeth’s new hospital will be a 144-bed building off Interstate 64 on North Green Mount Road. Its projected cost is $253 million. Adjacent to the new hospital, St. Elizabeth’s plans to build a $34 million ambulatory care center.
Preliminary work is under way on the new facility in O’Fallon. An invitation-only ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for Friday with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital leaders, government officials, physicians, business leaders and other supporters expected to attend.
The City of Belleville isn’t alone in its opposition to St. Elizabeth’s relocation. Officials with Memorial Hospital in Belleville also oppose the move, citing a duplication of services. Memorial Hospital is building a satellite campus in Shiloh.
St. Elizabeth’s expects to have the new hospital finished by the end of 2017.