BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A battle is raging between two southern Illinois hospitals over a proposed $253 million project that would put a new hospital close to an existing one.
The Belleville News Democrat reports officials from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville are seeking approval from the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board to move the operation from a 60-year-old facility to a new 144-bed hospital. The new facility would be five minutes from where Memorial Hospital is building a second hospital in O’Fallon.
Leaders of St. Elizabeth’s say Memorial’s opposition could shut them down.
“What Memorial really wants is for St. Elizabeth’s to continue to have to provide care in an old, out-of-date building that is difficult to access,” St. Elizabeth’s administrator wrote in a letter to the state board.
But one Memorial Hospital official is disputing the claim. Chief Operating Officer Michael McManus tells the News Democrat the move would divide the community and risk access to health care for underserved residents.
“St. Elizabeth’s statement is inflammatory and grossly misstates the consistent position of Memorial Hospital,” McManus wrote in a letter to state regulators.
He is asking the board to deny the proposal, writing that it would “forever change the health care delivery system in our metro-east region” and “create a system that benefits the haves at the expense of those who have not.”
St. Elizabeth’s is asking the state for approval to close its 303-bed hospital in downtown Belleville. It would be located seven miles away off Interstate 64. The hospital also plans to build a $34 million ambulatory care center next to the new location, which also will need state approval.
Officials with St. Elizabeth said the current hospital is obsolete.
The project is expected to cost $253 million.