BELLEVILLE, IL (KPLR) – A public hearing to determine the fate of Belleville’s historic St. Elizabeth hospital drew hundreds to the Bell-Clair Fairgrounds on Tuesday night.
Belleville's second public hearing was set to end at 6:30 pm but lasted until well past 7 pm. There were more than 100 people signed up to speak out and at least 50 had their say about the hospital.
The meeting was packed with supporters and opponents, some even wearing buttons to support the move. Hospital leaders say they are not abandoning Belleville or it's patients while those opposed say the move will have a negative impact on the city`s economy reaching well into 330 million dollars along with decreased healthcare for the poor. Opponents also call the move a financial tragedy. For the most part the comments at the meeting were split 50/50.
Those in favor of also say the new project could maintain and create new jobs and that 75 percent of the hospitals current patients come from outside of the city. Opponents say the hospital should find another location in Belleville. If approved the hospital could be open in by December 2017. Eight members of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will take all of the comments and concerns into consideration to determine if the move will happen. A vote is expected on December 16th.