I’ve been privileged to be a member of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois board for six years. During that time, I’ve come to appreciate what this organization offers to Peoria and the surrounding area for sick and injured children and their families. Having high-quality services offered close to home can’t be overemphasized. The out-of-pocket expenses and daunting logistics of traveling to Chicago, Indianapolis, or St. Louis for specialized pediatric care has made Children’s Hospital a real godsend for families throughout central Illinois.
Children’s Hospital and OSF Saint Francis have announced an ambitious building plan that will take both institutions to a new level, with profound implications for Peoria. They’re calling this the Milestone Project, and I can think of no better term for it.
There have been, of course, many milestones for Children’s Hospital—from the initial formation of the hospital in 1990 to statewide and national accreditations to the successful recruitment of more than 75 pediatric subspecialists. These physicians, along with their primary care counterparts and an impressive team of caregivers, make Children’s Hospital a medical destination for thousands of families each year seeking quality health care.
The need for more space has been demonstrated over the last several years, as patients have had to be diverted to other cities because Children’s Hospital’s Intensive Care Units were full. Last year alone, there were 125 diversions.
The impact of this building project is important on several levels, some of which impact the readers of this publication.
An economic impact study shows this modernization effort will infuse tens of millions of dollars into the Peoria economy—from the construction itself to retail businesses selling the products and services needed by out-of-town families. It’s estimated 1,000 new health-related and support jobs will be created throughout the Peoria area because of this project.
The leadership of Children’s Hospital and OSF are to be commended for planning this project within Renaissance Park (formerly the Med Tech District) in downtown Peoria. We all want a thriving, exciting downtown, and this project—the largest the City of Peoria has ever seen—will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
Of course, all of this is contingent upon the approval of the state’s Health Facilities Planning Board, the body that reviews such requests. OSF and Children’s Hospital completed a lengthy Certificate of Need application, which was submitted in March. That began a 90-day public comment period. The board will meet soon to act on this application.
Children’s Hospital is an important anchor in our impressive medical community. And its relationship with OSF Saint Francis allows it to share many common services, maintain high-quality services, and keep costs under control. We hope the Health Facilities Planning Board looks favorably on this project for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost, for the children in our area who deserve the best care possible in a first-class facility that’s close to home. IBI