The board also approved a separate $2 million, three-room, free-standing birthing center that QMG also proposed in Quincy. Both facilities will be built on the campus of the Quincy Town Center, which already houses the QMG Surgery Center and Cancer Institute.
“We are thrilled with the board’s decisions today,” QMG CEO Carol Brockmiller said in a statement. “At QMG, we are doing really good things for all the right reasons and trying hard to serve the people of Quincy, Adams County, West Central Illinois, and the tri-states.”
QMG originally filed its application for the small hospital in 2020 and has since faced strong opposition from a nearby hospital operator, Blessing Health System. The nonprofit, three-hospital chain has argued that QMG’s new hospital would siphon off its profitable surgeries and privately insured patients that keep it afloat financially. Blessing also took aim at QMG parent Duly Health & Care's private-equity backer, Ares Management, expressing concern over what Blessing considers profit-motivated ownership that could threaten care in the area.
QMG has defended itself by saying it's looking to introduce more competition in Quincy’s health care market and provide services not currently offered in the area. QMG has alleged that Blessing’s opposition to the project was spurred by Blessing’s desire to maintain a monopoly on health care services in the area.
Over the last two years that the project has been before state regulators, dozens of letters of opposition and support were filed from representatives from both QMG and Blessing, as well as from local business owners and other stakeholders and community members.
Last May, the Illinois Health Facilities & Services Review Board issued an intent-to-deny notice to QMG's hospital. Among other reasons, the board said at the time that the hospital would create “unnecessary duplication of service” in the area.
Tuesday’s board meeting became intense at times as representatives of both Blessing and QMG made their points. At one point, a QMG representative said the new hospital will allow them to “crush” and “decimate” Blessing’s “monopoly” on health care in Quincy.
Of the eight-person board, just one member, Linda Rae Murray, voted against QMG’s proposed hospital, saying “there’s not a need for these 28 beds.” Applications are approved if they receive at least six votes.
Once the project was approved, QMG attorney Tracey Klein thanked the board, adding, “We will make you proud.”
“We are deeply disappointed in the board’s decision to ignore its own rules and approve this unnecessary QMG Hospital and Birthing Center,” Blessing CEO Maureen Kahn said in a statement to Crain’s. “By siphoning away patients with insurance, QMG threatens our ability to provide accessible health care for an entire region. While we will remain the safety net provider for the region, we will also continue to advocate for what is right for Blessing and for all community hospitals across the state. We are reviewing all options.”