State Permit Granted for New Bonutti Clinic in Effingham


Published on September 22 2020 4:29 pm
Last Updated on September 22 2020 7:15 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board Tuesday afternoon granted a permit for Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center to construct a new Bonutti Clinic in Effingham.

There were no negative votes.

Work will begin this year, with completion forecast for the end of June in 2023.

The 65,400 square foot project has a price tag of $36.3 million.

The plan is for the new facility to be located east of the current building on space now housing the former Midas Muffler shop. The current location will be used for parking for the building.

The new clinic will house the Bonutti Orthopedics, Occupational Medicine, Walk-In Clinic, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and Interventional Pain Management clinics as well as diagnostic imaging, physical and occupational therapy featuring an in-ground therapy pool and a lab station.

Sarah Bush Lincoln President and CEO Jerry Esker expressed his gratitude to the community for supporting the project and to the State for granting the Certificate of Need permit. Esker said, "We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by the Effingham community during the phases of the CON application process. We are grateful the State board members agreed with our application and understood the need for a new building."

Many of those who testified on both sides of the issue were the same as who testified at the hearing held in Effingham early this month.

Testifying on behalf of Sarah Bush Lincoln in addition to Esker were Dr. Peter Bonutti and SBL Planning Director Erica Stollard. Others testifying on behalf of Sarah Bush were St. Sen. Dale Righter, Grunloh Construction owner Tom Grunloh, and private equity investment manager Jim Schultz of Effingham.

Those testifying in opposition to the project in its current form were several representatives of Hospital Sisters Health System, the corporation that owns St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital, as well as Dr. Ruben Boyajian, Kingery Printing Company owner John Kingery, Meghan Rewers of Crisis Nursery of Effingham County, Sister Carol Beckermann of Effingham Area Catholic Charities, and hospital board member Carrie Crippen. HSHS St. Anthony's President and CEO Theresa Rutherford objected to the "scope and scale" of the new building.

Rutherford issued a statement following the vote. "We are disappointed in the board’s decision. Elected officials, business leaders and community members joined us to ask for clarification and a win-win solution for our community and the patients we serve. We’ve said all along that we support all businesses investing in their facilities with modernizations. In this case, we wanted to make sure that it could be done without duplicating services or creating an environment that could threaten the viability of the 24/7/365 services we provide with the emergency department and other essential services. We’ve provided services to the Effingham area for nearly 145 years and will continue to provide those services well into the future."

The vote was 5-0 in favor of granting the Certificate of Need, with almost each of the Board members saying their vote was based on their staff's report and the testimony received at the hearing.

Sarah Bush Lincoln Director of Communications Patty Peterson said, "We will be moving forward quickly." SBL has already obtained much of the City approval needed to get started on the project.

Regarding the City, City Commissioner Hank Stephens testified Tuesday, neither in support of or opposition to the project. Stephens said of letters written by Mayor Mike Schutzbach that they were designed to show appreciation of the work done by HSHS St. Anthony's in Effingham, but said, "Neither the Mayor nor the Commissioners are taking a stance; we remain neutral on this project."