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Graham Health System continues Galesburg expansion; city to get first south side clinic

Canton-based Graham Health System plans to open clinics at Seminary and Main streets, on the former Rescue Mission property.
Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio
Canton-based Graham Health System plans to open clinics at Seminary and Main streets, on the former Rescue Mission property.

Bob Senneff jokes that Graham Health System should be called Seminary Street Health Care.

Because with two existing clinics and more on the way, the Canton-based, non-profit provider will soon have a presence along that thoroughfare from the city’s south side to the far north.

Senneff, President and CEO of Graham Health System, said the growth is based on demand following the closure of Galesburg Cottage Hospital in 2022, which left OSF HealthCare as the main provider.

“We understand there are some shortages in providers and physicians,” Senneff said. “We’re actively recruiting additional nurse practitioners, PAs, MDs, and DOs.”

With Graham Health System’s continued expansion in Galesburg comes constraints on space.

“So we’re adding new facilities on North Seminary Street. We’ll have three brand-new buildings over the next 18 months,” Senneff said. “And we’re building a clinic on the south side of the community.”

In addition to the new facility on North Seminary and the new clinic on the south side, both of which are expected to open this summer, Senneff said the two other clinics will open in 2025.

Approval to use bonds

Graham Health System’s expansion in Galesburg is being funded in part by bonds issued in another county.

Under state statutes, a public hearing and resolution are required when revenue from bonds issued by one municipality will be used in another.

In this case, the city of Canton is issuing $12.6 million in bonds for Graham Health System, but some of that will be used in Knox County to help finance Graham’s growth in the Galesburg market.

“The borrowing conduit is the city of Canton so we can purchase bonds at a tax-exempt rate. The bonds will all be purchased by Commerce Bank in St. Louis,” Senneff told the Knox County board during a public hearing Wednesday. “But any county where we would spend those funds, we would need that county’s board’s permission.”

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Knox County board unanimously approved the resolution. The county will have no financial obligation to repay the bonds.

More about the expansion

Graham Health System currently has two facilities in Galesburg.

A Convenient Care clinic at 1174 N. Seminary St. opened in September 2022, just months after Cottage Hospital’s clinics ceased all operations.

Then a specialty clinic opened at 530 N. Seminary St. in the summer of 2023.

Now a 13,600-square foot new, multi-specialty clinic is under construction in the 2000 block of North Seminary Street.

In addition, Graham Health Systems will also be opening primary care and convenience clinics on the city’s south side, in part of the former Rescue Mission property at Seminary and Third streets.

The Rescue Mission sold the property last year to Benedict Holdings LLC, which then divided it into separate parcels and sold the former thrift store building portion to Graham Health System.

It will be the only clinic in Galesburg south of Main Street.

Knox County board member Samuel Cohen, D-District 3, thanked Senneff for opening a clinic to serve his south side constituents.

“The expansion into the south side is going to do wonders for healthcare accessibility for equity on the south side,” Cohen said.

In addition, the new clinics will pave the way for some changes and additions at the existing ones.

“A lot of new services will be coming,” Senneff said. “In our two current buildings, one will become a rehab facility with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cardiac rehab. The other facility will become a wound clinic with hyperbaric oxygen.”

A good relationship with OSF

Senneff said Graham Health System is trying to provide as many outpatient services as it can in Galesburg to fill the void created by Cottage Hospital’s closure.

But he said Graham has a good relationship with OSF HealthCare, which operates Galesburg’s only hospital and expanded its footprint in Galesburg as a result of Cottage’s closure.

“We partner with OSF every day. We collaborate with them on a number of different services,” Senneff said. “We’ll obviously be competing with them in this market. But the real problem was Cottage and the demise of Cottage left a lot of patients undoctored.”

One void that Graham Health System is helping to fill in Galesburg is access to birth control.

As a Catholic ministry, OSF HealthCare offers fertility awareness-based methods of family planning but does not promote contraceptive practices or prescribe birth control.

Expansion in McDonough County

Graham Health System also got permission from the Knox County board last year to spend a portion of a $15 million bond issue on Galesburg projects.

Senneff said they asked the McDonough County board for permission to use some of that bond issue for Graham Health System’s clinic in Macomb.

But the board shot down the proposal on a 12 to 7 vote, with former McDonough District Hospital CEO Brian Dietz urging board members to vote against it.

“We didn’t get permission down there so we used other funds,” Senneff said.

A Knox County board member asked Senneff at Wednesday’s meeting why the McDonough Board voted against that resolution.

“They voted no feeling like we were coming in to compete with them and there wasn’t the need for competition,” Senneff said. “We’ve done very well in that market. So we felt like there was a need and we’re meeting that need.”

The MDH board voted to remove Dietz as CEO in February over allegations of a hostile work environment.

Senneff noted that Graham Health Systems and interim MDH CEO Bill Murdock “get along very well.”

“We’re partnering with them on a number of different projects,” Senneff said.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.