Smaller Sherman Plan Still the Cry St. Joseph Unlikely to Fall, State Agency Says in Report

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Byline: Christine Byers Daily Herald Staff Writer

Sherman's proposed new hospital should be smaller and have fewer beds, but it's unlikely that it would cause the demise of Provena Saint Joseph Hospital if it's built, a state agency said in a report released Tuesday.

The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board will use the report during its June 7 meeting in Chicago much like a roadmap when deciding the fate of Sherman's $310 million proposed hospital at Randall and Big Timber roads.

Sherman initially asked to build a hospital with 263 beds and came in about 63,000 square feet above state standards. During their March meeting, planning board members expressed concerns about the bed count and square footage as well as how the project could affect rival St. Joe's hospital.

Since then, Sherman reduced its proposed bed count to 255 and conducted a study of its own to debunk St. Joe's analysis, which showed it could lose more than $8 million annually and close should Sherman build.

But the reduction in beds still puts the planned hospital eight beds above the state's standards and does nothing to reduce the surplus of square footage, according to the state report issued Tuesday.

"It still appears that a smaller hospital and a smaller number of beds would be a better choice," the report said.

And after reviewing St. Joe's financial analysis, conducted by Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, the state staff said it is possible that current St. Joe's patients may find Sherman's new location more convenient.

But the state says a change in physician-patient relationships would have to occur to create the kind of outcome the Deloitte study suggests. …