The Good Samaritan Hospital Board of Governors — with all members present — early Thursday morning voted to move forward with the purchase of the former Clearview Eye Center.
The board earlier this month met to consider the purchase of the building for its Physical and Sports Medicine departments, but with three members of the seven-member board absent, and Mary Cay Martin abstaining from voting because of a conflict of interest, no motion could be managed to approve the purchase of the building located just off Hart Street across from Lincoln High School.
Members Tim Ellerman and Ralph Jacqmain both opposed the purchase citing the hospital's uncertain financial future and adequate space elsewhere.
Ellerman voted against the measure again on Thursday while Jacqmain this time around opted to abstain, although he didn't offer an explanation for his switch to abstention.
In the end, the purchase passed with a vote of 4-1, and hospital president and CEO Rob McLin couldn't have been happier at the opportunity to expand.
Physical Medicine, he said, will be out of space by year's end.
“We're always looking for strategic opportunities to grow,” he said following the brief meeting. “Both our physical therapy and sports therapy (programs) have grown by leaps and bounds, and this building will give us the opportunity to expand those and grow in the outpatient field as well.
“That building's proximity to the schools, the access it provides to patients was really important to me.”
The $1.5 million purchase of the Clearview Eye Center was included in the hospital's 2019 strategic plan, according to Matt Schuckman, the hospital's vice president of operations; allocated money for a Physical Medicine expansion was combined with funds leftover from a project the hospital opted not to pursue.
It's enough, he said, to purchase the building and do the small number of planned renovations. Part of the building, about 6,000 square feet, will be leased as well, generating revenue for the hospital.
And none of it, Schuckman said, takes into account the proceeds from the sale of the green space at Sixth and Vigo streets the board voted earlier this month to sell to Old National Bank for $650,000.
The hospital had owned the property since 2004, maintaining it as green space and holding onto it in the chance it would be needed for new construction.
But as the hospital instead has expanded southward, toward Willow Street, it became evident that it wouldn't be needed after all, hence the sale.
Acquiring the Clearview Eye property — and moving Physical and Sports Medicine out — will now free up space in the hospital for its new internal medicine residency program, specifically its Internal Medicine Continuity Clinic, coming to the hospital next year.
The Clearview Eye Center, formerly owned and operated by Dr. Frank Emert, is now owned by First Robinson Savings Bank in Robinson, Illinois. That bank is affiliated with First Vincennes Saving Bank, 615 Kimmell Road, where Martin is the branch manager, which is why she abstained from voting.