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p01 hospitalThe new HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, which should open Nov. 4.

IBJ photo.

By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
p01 hospital2North parking lot curbs under construction.    Seven months from the biggest move in its history, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s is actively working through the logistics of shifting patients and services to its new O’Fallon hospital.
    The approximately $300 million project will open this November northwest of Green Mount Road and Interstate 64.The total investment includes dedicated dollars to the future repurposing of the Belleville Health Campus, which will continue to provide outpatient services along with land purchase, overall construction, purchase of new technologies and equipment, and other project needs for both the hospital and attached physician office building, named the O’Fallon p01 hospital3Exterior of the hospital campus.Health Center.  
    The hospital is about 80 percent complete.
    “We’re currently on schedule,” said Kelly Barbeau, marketing/communications manager for St. Elizabeth’s. “We’re preparing for Nov. 4 to be our opening day.”
    On that day, a well-coordinated but massive move will take place. All patients will be transferred by ambulance from the current facility, in the 200 block of South Third Street in Belleville, to the new hospital in O’Fallon. Remaining personnel will also be shifted.
    “We will be starting really early with our Incident Command Centers, probably around 2 a.m., with patient moves starting later in the morning,” Barbeau said.
    The hospital is partnering with several local ambulance agencies from across its service area and expects to have about 21 rigs in action that day. A nurse will also accompany each patient in an ambulance on the trip from Belleville to O’Fallon to ensure patient care.
    The number of patients won’t be known until much closer to that date, but all individual needs will be taken into consideration, with a patient task force team planning moves ahead of time.
    “We are managing our elective cases leading up to the move and anticipate a very controlled environment,” President and CEO Peg Sebastian said.
    At the request of the IBJ, St. Elizabeth’s provided the following, detailed scenario regarding the move:
    During the week of the move, clinical teams will be assessing every patient who is in the hospital through Friday morning. This will occur every four hours at first, then every two hours closer to the day. By midnight on Nov. 3, the team will have an understanding of the number of patients going to the new hospital and those who will be able to be discharged.
    Early Nov. 4, the hospital will activate two Incident Command Centers, one in Belleville and one in O’Fallon. St. Elizabeth’s continuously trains staff under the Hospital Incident Command System, which is an incident management system that hospitals use to manage emergencies or large-scale, planned events.
    That morning, the new hospital will be officially declared open and “the carefully coordinated closure and transition” from the current Belleville hospital will begin. Patient transfers will continue throughout the day until all patients are moved. Then, a careful sweep of the old hospital will be conducted and the building will be secured.
    Patients will be given color-coded bands with bar codes as identifiers for staff and EMS on the location of the hospital they are going to. Move teams will work simultaneously throughout the day to move patients to their new rooms. Hundreds of colleagues will be on site to help patients and family support persons through the change.
    The hospital will use a system called EM Tracker, which scans the barcode on patient bands to constantly track each patient as they leave Belleville and arrive at their new patient room in the new facility.
    “It is estimated that it will take about 80 minutes round trip for an ambulance to cycle through with one patient and be back at Belleville to take another,” the hospital said.

By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    Meals on Wheels is a major investment in the lives of senior citizens, and state and federal leaders are being shortsighted in trying to squeeze funding from the program, a local nonprofit head says.
    Jonathan Becker, executive director of Senior Services Plus based in Alton, minces no words when asked about the latest threatened loss of funds to the Meals program.
    “It’s not cost effective to cut a program that saves the state and federal governments money,” he said. “It’s ludicrous that somebody would suggest doing something like that.”
    Becker is reacting to the budget presented by the administration of President Donald Trump, which is proposing cuts to block grants that go toward spending on Meals on Wheels. Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said the program is one of many that are “just not showing any results.”
    At the same time, Becker says, his agency faces continued delays in human services funding from the Illinois Legislature, which has been unable to reach a budget deal for the past two years, forcing nonprofit agencies like his to borrow money to meet needs.
    “Holding our money back, making us pay to borrow money to carry zero percent interest loans for the state, it’s not a cost-effective way to do business,” he said.
    The latest Meal on Wheels threats run counter to the wisdom of keeping seniors in their homes and out of assisted care, he said.
    “If it costs the federal government, say, $3 a day to provide a meal, the cost of a Medicaid nursing home is literally $150 a day. For somebody at the federal level to say the program doesn’t work is just … I don’t even know how to quantify it,” he said.
    SSP, which serves a six-county area of Metro East, delivers far fewer meals than it once did.
    “We’ve taken hits over the last two years,” he said. “Two years ago at this time, we were delivering 650 (fresh) meals five times a week. We’re down to 420, delivering five frozen meals once a week. It’s not good, what’s happening.”
    The meals are portioned-controlled and balanced. But there’s no guarantee that the recipient, often frail and homebound, is going to be preparing their frozen meal each day as hoped. Fresh meals, on the other hand, were always welcomed, he said.

By ALAN J. ORTBALS
    On March 1, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high of 21,115, having risen steadily since an election day value of 18,259 — a 15 percent increase. While that is quite a run, financial experts say there’s a lot of substance and little froth in those numbers.
    Previously, money managers pointed to TINA — “there is no alternative” — as the force driving the stock market upward.
    “TINA’s still alive but I don’t think she’s as attractive as she was,” said Nathan Klitzing, principal wealth advisor and partner at Cambridge Capital Management. “There are alternatives out there. Interest rates have moved up a little bit. As we speak the 10-year treasury is the highest it has been in about 3 years at 2.6 percent. It’s still historically low but it has moved considerably higher. The other alternatives — U.S. stocks, international stocks and emerging markets stocks — look OK valuation-wise. You’re still looking at an S&P with an average dividend of about 2 percent. When you look at that compared to fixed-income yields and CD and money market rates on the low end, there’s still an attractive tune to that, too. TINA’s still there’s. She’s just not as strong as she once was.”  
    While the media focuses on the Dow, financial advisers prefer to reference the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is made up of just 30 selected stocks whereas the S&P contains the 500 largest companies in the U.S. and it is market-cap based.  
    “Goldman Sachs represents about 8.5 percent of the Dow,” Klitzing said. “The top 10 companies in the Dow represent 53 percent of the index. So, it’s a bit misleading. It’s a bit heavy in financials and financials have been one of the best performing sectors since November.”
    Klitzing explained that financial analysts look at the projected forward earnings of the S&P 500 companies relative to their stock value. Currently, that sits at about 17.7 times the next 12 months’ earnings. That’s a bit rich, Klitzing said, but not overly so. The average multiplier over the last 20 years has been 15.9.
    “On a relative basis, the S&P was trading at 27.2 times earnings on March 24 of 2000 during the tech bubble,” Klitzing noted. “Those were the days when you went to the local library to day trade. Comparatively, we got all the way down to where the S&P was trading at 10.3 times forward earnings on March 9 of 2009. That was certainly the floor. Now it is 17.7 and that’s slightly over historical averages but it doesn’t look ridiculously expensive.”
    Part of the buoyancy is talk of deregulation, tax reform and infrastructure investment. “These things don’t come easy,” Klitzing said. “Markets are trying to guess what the future will be. If anything, it is priced where all of those fall in line. If all of those things don’t fall in line then that’s a situation where markets may be overpriced. All of these uncertainties are real. There is no doubt about that.”
    SIUE Professor of Finance and Graduate Program Director Riza Demirer says the global economic and political picture is playing a part as well in the strength of the U.S. stock market.
    He said the recovery from the Great Recession has been long and sustained. Gross Domestic Product has steadily increased; unemployment has declined from over 10 percent to around 4 percent; retail sales are growing and inflation has been held in check.
    On the other hand, says Demirer, the European and Chinese markets are riddled with uncertainty. Brexit, economic and political instability in Europe, together with an economic downturn in China are causing investors to withdraw funds from foreign markets and redeploy them in the U.S.

 

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    ALTON — Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to announce the 13th Annual Simmons Employee Foundation Golf Tournament will benefit the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, a St. Louis area organization dedicated to finding places for area children in the foster system to call home. The tournament will take place Friday, June 23, at the Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton.
    “The Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s coordinated and organized efforts to make a significant contribution to the lives of children in need of permanent homes inspired each of us on the SEF Board,” said foundation Director Tamara Ferguson. “We felt compelled to get involved and help them continue their remarkable efforts.”