A Publication of WTVP

Some have expressed concern about physician groups relocating away from the downtown area to other Peoria sites. Does this exodus mean downtown Peoria is no longer the Downstate Medical Center? Is the cup half empty, as a pessimist might suggest? Or is it half full? In downtown Peoria’s case, the cup may be, in fact, overflowing.

I suggest the movement of physician offices to other parts of Peoria doesn’t harm downtown. When hospitalization is needed, the patients of those physicians usually come downtown for care. Those physician offices have a strong regional pull and bring patients to Peoria from throughout central Illinois, an economic benefit to many non-medical businesses in Peoria and surrounding towns—from restaurants to hotels to a variety of retail operations.

From the OSF perspective, our commitment to downtown Peoria has never been stronger. We’ve spent millions of dollars over the past five years on improvements at our downtown campus. Our support of the College of Medicine and our working with them to recruit physician specialists has been highly successful. The specialists brought to Peoria see patients in downtown Peoria and do teaching and research here as well.

We’re now building a $30 million parking deck downtown, a structure that will accommodate 1,500 cars. That project will be completed in about a year.

We’ve installed a $3.2 million Trilogy System, the leading image-guided radiotherapy system that marks the beginning of a new generation of cancer care. The system complements the $3 million Gamma Knife, whose radiosurgery can treat brain tumors and vascular malformations while sparing adjacent healthy, normal brain tissues. We also have a $2.5 million PET/CT scanning unit in our Forest Park Building. All of these are located at our downtown campus.

OSF Saint Francis and Children’s Hospital are considering a multi-million-dollar investment in downtown within the Med Tech district. We wouldn’t actively be considering devoting resources to this project were it not for an optimism that the medical community in downtown Peoria will continue to grow.

A new dean, Dr. Rod Lorenz, has been named to the College of Medicine. Dr. Lorenz has shown an impressive understanding of the regional draw of Peoria medicine. He also has brought to the college’s Department of Pediatrics financial stability and helped recruit more than three dozen physician specialists who now practice in downtown Peoria.

We’ve made these investments and are making future plans because of the regional impact Peoria medicine has. At OSF Saint Francis and Children’s Hospital, almost 35 percent of our in-patients are from outside the tri-county area. We view the renovation of I-74 through Peoria as highly desirable because of the interstate’s role as a major artery into downtown Peoria and to the medical community located there.

We don’t find the Downstate Medical Center a failure by any stretch. In fact, we see what’s happening in downtown Peoria as moving us into a new and exciting era for the Downstate Medical Center. IBI