State Rep. Kimberley-Ann Collins says its “crazy” that a three-bed urgent care center on the city’s northside could even be considered a hospital and vows to keep fighting use of the name Homer G. Phillips on the facility.
“Homer G. Phillips Hospital has always been a strong name in The Ville neighborhood, and it just kind of came out of the blue that they were going to utilize the name in the 5th ward for a three-bedroom clinic,” she said.
“We have tried to fight it in different ways, and there's still a current fight going on now. We don’t want to give up. It's a prestigious name. It was a medical institute that trained thousands of Black doctors and nurses. I mean, it had its own nursing school. It hired Black people.
She is irate that developer Paul McKee would “take [Homer G. Phillips’] name and not get community input, and not even tell the community who live in The Ville.”
Collins said she, Michael Burns, president of Northside Community Housing, and others fighting his use of the name have attempted to contact McKee to no avail. The St. Louis American has also attempted to contact McKee and have not received a reply.
The 3-bed facility would be adjacent to a planned Ponce Health Sciences Hospital, whose president is Dr. David Lenihan, who does not reside in the St. Louis area.
“We invited them over to The Ville neighborhood to have a direct communication with the community because they have been excluded from this project. I feel that they owe our neighborhood an apology”
St. Louis Alderman James Page, who represents Ward 5, said Rep. Collins has shared her concerns with him as have others from his area.
“I have a deep and abiding respect for the original Homer G. Phillips Hospital, what it meant to the Black community and what it still means,” he said.
“I’m focusing on the fact that we have not had a full-fledged hospital in this area in forever.”
He was referring to the proposed future hospital. Collins said McKee had reneged on many promises in the past, and it is difficult to believe that the three-bed facility will grow into anymore than it is now.
Page said that the actual name of the facility will be the “Homer G. Phillips Memorial Hospital,” adding that he is “trying to see this as a positive, not a negative.”
Collins warns that McKee and hospitals operators should expect a very negative reaction from community members.
“My residents have stated their opposition and that's the reason why I'm standing in opposition; when they open up you could probably expect tons of people with signs, protesting saying ‘no.’ You could probably expect that. I've tried what I could and unfortunately, I got elected to office after all of this happened,” she said.
“I'm thankful to be elected now and to be a voice for the people. We're trying, we're just not seeing any results as far as the name change.”