Ottawa City Council to meet with OSF on hospital plan, holds off on opposition

Public meeting date to be determined

August Querciagrossa (right), CEO of OSF Healthcare's West Region, addresses the Ottawa City Council on Tuesday regarding changes to the local hospital's services.

Before a standing room-only crowd in the Ottawa council chambers Tuesday, the Ottawa City Council tabled a resolution of opposition to OSF HealthCare’s plan for Saint Elizabeth Medical Center, on the condition the council and OSF convene a public meeting within the next two weeks to discuss the plan further.

The concerns stem from OSF HealthCare’s announcement on March 7 that it will build a $126 million hospital on U.S. Route 6, across from its current hospital.

As part of that plan, OSF intends to move services such as inpatient beds, obstetrics and intensive care to other OSF hospitals in the Interstate 80 corridor, in particular to those in Peru and Mendota.

Commissioner Tom Ganiere, who voiced his displeasure with the plan after OSF’s announcement, said he welcomes the OSF investment in the Ottawa community with the new building, but he said he drew the line at having the available services be less than what its citizens have become accustomed.

“The proposed hospital they’re planning I don’t believe meets the needs of the citizens of Ottawa,” Ganiere said. “Their viewpoint I feel is they want to consolidate things for OSF and make it convenient for OSF, but I feel that might not be in the best interest of our community.

“We are the largest community in the county and we are the only community whose population grew in the last census. We feel we deserve better. We think we need better. … I’m not saying we should have the same size hospital that we have today. I know that’s not realistic, but I feel we deserve more than what they’re offering.

“Hopefully, OSF will see the error of their ways and reconsider their proposal. If they don’t we’ll meet back here in two weeks and pass this resolution.”

Ganiere said the resolution would carry significant weight with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board at its next public meeting on June 13.

OSF Saint Elizabeth President Dawn Trompeter and CEO of OSF HealthCare’s Western Region August Querciagrossa urged the council to table the motion and let the plan move forward. They cited the outdated condition of the current building and making services available to more people in the region.

Local tradesman Kevin Dale also urged tabling it, citing the many jobs construction of the new hospital would bring.

The rest of the speakers, however, were united in keeping the current services in Ottawa.

Colleen Burns, an Ottawa resident who said she has worked around the country as a strategic planning and business development director for large health systems, said she believes OSF HealthCare is planning a “small-scale mental psychiatric hospital with a free-standing emergency department and a small ambulatory surgery center.”

Burns said that although rural hospitals in general are not doing well financially, OSF St. Elizabeth has consistently “operated at a profit” and received recognition for its quality of care. The hospital recently received an A grade in Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Grades.

Several others present at the meeting made appeals for the resolution. Ganiere urged all those in attendance to come to the council’s meeting with OSF. A time and location will be determined.

“I understand the La Salle County Board and Marseilles City Council also have such resolutions pending,” Ganiere said. “Hopefully, (OSF) will listen to the community that more is needed here and they’ll come around to that way of thinking.”

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