QUINCY -- The Blessing Health System has announced plans to build an ambulatory surgical treatment center on its 11th Street campus.

Blessing announced Wednesday that it submitted plans to state regulators for the new building, which would allow it to move its existing surgical center space it leases from Quincy Medical Group at 1118 Hampshire St.

QMG received approval from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board in April to open a $20 million surgical center in the former Bergner's building in the Quincy Mall at 33rd and Broadway.

Blessing's proposed $21 million, two-story 36,000-square-foot facility would be built in the area that currently houses the physician parking lot, which is bordered by 11th and Spring. It would house three operating rooms, which Blessing says would be larger than those currently available, and three procedure rooms. Shell space is being requested to allow for growth for a possible fourth operating room that could be added in the future. The new building would be connected to the main hospital building by a sky bridge.

If approved by the state regulators later this year, the new facility could open in January 2022.

"Blessing Hospital is evolving to meet the health care needs of the patients we serve," said Tim Koontz, chairman of the Blessing Corporate Services Board. "The relocation of our existing (ambulatory surgical treatment center) will provide the region with the same great service they have come to expect from Blessing Health System, in a state-of-the-art, stand-alone (center), which offers our patients and payers a cost savings."

Koontz said moving the surgical center at QMG has been part of Blessing's long-range plans for some time, as the lease expires in 2023 with one, five-year renewal option remaining.

Blessing said in its certificate of need to the state that QMG's surgical center will compromise Blessing's ability to compete and generate revenue to support safety net services.

It also will need to relocate its surgical center once the lease expires, so its proposal allows for planning and construction time, Blessing said.

Once built, Blessing will no longer need to lease space from QMG, which the hospital says is nearly $1 million annually.

Blessing said if QMG, which is 40 percent owned by UnityPoint, decided to sell the facility, the new management could have different plans for the space and not give time for Blessing to plan and relocate.

Blessing also does not have the ability to expand the current center.

"The community has expressed the need for greater convenience and ease of access when needing health care, as well as competition and choice," Koontz said. "The relocation of Blessing's outpatient surgery services will better meet those needs at a competitive price."

Julie Brink, chairman of the Blessing Hospital Board of Trustees, said the hospital evolves as health care needs change in the community.

"Blessing is an independent, locally owned health system that is governed by residents of the communities we serve," Brink said.

"We all work together to do the right thing for the region. This plan is the right thing for the communities we serve."

This is the third major project Blessing has needed approval from the state board since 2018.

In 2018, Blessing received approval to build a $40 million medical office building on a 7-acre plot at the southeast corner of 48th and Maine.

The 80,000-square-foot building will include provider offices, physical therapy and select radiology and laboratory services. It also will house a coffee shop and a durable medical equipment store. It is scheduled to open in 2021.

It also received approval for a $49.2 million expansion of Moorman Pavilion at Blessing Hospital. That project, which is slated for completion in 2021, calls for finishing the empty fourth floor and constructing the fifth and sixth floors, which would allow Blessing to create three floors of additional single-bed rooms.

Blessing will hold a series of community forums on the ASTC relocation. The dates, times and locations will be announced when the schedule is finalized.

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