Ottawa commissioner voices dismay with OSF St. Elizabeth plan to move services

Commissioner Tom Ganiere asks hospital to ‘reconsider’ approach

OSF HealthCare plans to build a new inpatient hospital in Ottawa, the hospital chain announced Wednesday in a news release. The new hospital will be built across the street, south of East Norris Drive (U.S. 6), on a vacant 31-acre plot of OSF-owned land, OSF said in its release. The current OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center was built in the early 1970s and is at the end of its useful life with infrastructure challenges necessitating this decision, the hospital said.

Ottawa Commissioner of Public Health and Safety Tom Ganiere read into the record of Tuesday night’s Ottawa City Council meeting a statement outlining his displeasure with planned changes to OSF St. Elizabeth Hospital’s venues along the Interstate 80 corridor, which he believes will diminish care options in Ottawa.

The statement initially commended OSF St. Elizabeth for its commitment to the city and its promise to build a new multimillion-dollar inpatient hospital across Route 6 from the current facility he called “outdated.”

However, he admitted to being “very disappointed” about the realignment of vital services at its other hospital in Peru, set to reopen in April, which he said will cost Ottawa “inpatient intensive care, inpatient obstetric care, birthing rooms and several operating rooms, among other services.”

Ganiere said the city was in no way consulted about or given notice of the OSF plan and learned of the new hospital and the realignment just hours before it was announced to the public March 6.

He said the plan only would further tax an already overburdened emergency medical services and transport community and waste the time of EMS staff.

“Ottawa is a growing and thriving community, and I do not believe it is the time to be reducing services in our community,” he read from the statement. “In fact, if I recall correctly, Ottawa is the only community in La Salle County where the population grew during the last census, and I believe we should be expanding services to our community, not reducing them.

“I would ask that OSF reconsider this decision and give Ottawa the full-service hospital that we deserve and seem to have been promised by OSF at the time of the merger [with Ottawa Regional Hospital in 2010].”

He encouraged that the public take advantage of the opportunity to voice their concerns at the Health Services and Facilities Review Board.

Ganiere concluded the statement by saying those views “are mine and mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other council members or the city.”

Mayor Robb Hasty and Commissioner Wayne Eichelkraut both voiced their strong agreement.

Hasty, who pointed out that the city’s notice was a 15-minute Zoom call, said that he’d heard talk of further hearings by OSF, but nothing has been outlined or set.

In other action, the council:

  • authorized two North Central Area Transit agreements, one with the Tri-County Opportunities Council and the Earlville Lions Club, and the other with Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois.
  • approved requests of the Illinois Department of Transportation for four temporary road closures: on Saturday, May 11, for the 2024 Run Starved Rock Country Marathon; on Friday, June 14, for the 2024 Cruise Night; on Sunday, Sept. 29, for the 2024 Fall Festival Parade; and on Friday, Nov. 29, for the 2024 Festival of Lights Parade.
  • approved resolutions authorizing agreements with Renwick & Associates for design and engineering inspection services for the curb replacement project and for maintenance engineering for the street maintenance project.
  • approved two tag-day fundraisers at the intersection of Norris Drive and Route 23 for Pet Project on Saturday, June 1, and for the Illinois Valley Building Trades Council’s Dollars Against Diabetes Dad’s Day on Saturday, June 15.
Have a Question about this article?