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Lawsuit dismissed over St. Elizabeth's Hospital relocation

A sticker opposes St. Elizabeth's relocation on a door in downtown Belleville, on 06/04/15.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Clair County circuit judge flatly dismissed a lawsuit filed by Belleville city officials who had hoped to keep St. Elizabeth's Hospital from going forward with a planned relocation to O'Fallon, Ill. 

The decision, made Thursday, was met with approval by officials at St. Elizabeth's and its parent company, Hospital Sisters Health System. 

"We hope today’s court action puts an end [to] the Mayor’s eight months of litigation against us.  We look forward to working with local elected officials and members of the community regarding how best to repurpose our Belleville campus when we move inpatient services to our new medical campus along I-64," said HSHS division president James Dover. 

An attorney for the city of Belleville did not return a request for comment. 

Original story published June 4, 2015

After months of town hall meetings, state board hearings and public outcry, Belleville officials are taking one last crack at keeping St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in their city: a lawsuit.

St. Elizabeth’s won approval from an Illinois state regulatory board to close its 303-bed hospital in downtown Belleville and build a brand-new, $300 million hospital and urgent care center in nearby O’Fallon. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Friday afternoon.  

The suit, filed May 21 in St. Clair County’s circuit court, names officials with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, its parent organization Hospital Sisters Health System, and nine members of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which voted unanimously to approve the relocation last month.

The city’s complaint alleges that the board’s approval is inconsistent with the public interest, adversely affects Belleville’s economy and failed to consider concerns raised by St. Clair County’s public health and transit officials. The suit also alleges that the board’s decision improperly focused on elements like the financial interest of St. Elizabeth's, offered explanations that ran counter to the evidence presented and used evidence that was inaccurate and misleading.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert declined comment. Late Thursday, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital released this statement:

“HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital obtained a permit from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to build a replacement hospital and ambulatory care center. The permit was approved April 21 on an 8-0 vote by Review Board members after a nearly ninth month process involving thousands of pages of documents supporting the need for this project. 

An artist's rendering of the replacement hospital proposed by St. Elizabeth's in O'Fallon.
Credit Hospital Sisters Health System
An artist's rendering of the replacement hospital proposed by St. Elizabeth's in O'Fallon.

“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.  

“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.”

For more news about health care in the St. Louis region, follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB