The future of Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Bronzeville grew bright Monday, March 22, after the sale of the historic facility was approved by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services and Review Board.
As part of the deal, the name Mercy Hospital will change, and the hospital will no longer operate as a Catholic facility. The new name was not released at the time of the state’s approval. The buyer, Insight Chicago from Michigan, does not plan to cut any current services at the facility.
Under Insight’s ownership, the new hospital will offer an emergency department, rehabilitation center, stroke programs, behavioral health assistance, an obstetrics unit, intensive care unit and inpatient medical surgical beds.
Insight Chicago is one step closer to purchasing Mercy Hospital from Trinity Health Systems for $1. The two entities must finalize the deal to complete the sale.
Black leaders, including Alderwomen Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) and Sophia King (4th Ward), rallied to keep Mercy Hospital open as the last remaining facility of its kind in Bronzeville. The nearby Michael Reese Hospital closed in 2009 after years of financial decline.
Mercy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month and announced plans to close in May, citing operating losses of $7 million per month. The filing came after the state denied an application from Mercy’s owner, Trinity Health, to open an outpatient care center.
Community organizers applauded Insight’s track record for working in underserved communities like it has in Flint, Michigan. However, Jitu Brown of Journey 4 Justice said it was important that people in the community have a say in the future of Mercy.
In July 2020, owner Trinity Health Systems announced that Mercy Hospital would close in 2021 after merger talks fell through with three other hospitals, including St. Bernard, Advocate Trinity, and South Shore.
Before the proposed merger, Trinity Health reportedly tried to sell Mercy, but no one wanted to buy it.
The hospital had been struggling, with few patients before the pandemic.
The proposed merger collapsed after lawmakers in Springfield decided not to support to fund the $520 million plan.
The hospital’s final date of operation will be no later than May 31, 2021.
Mercy Hospital will be the second hospital in Bronzeville to close in recent years after Michael Reese Hospital treated its last patient in 2009. Black leaders had viewed the pending closure as another example of disinvestment in low-income neighborhoods.
During a rally last year outside the facility, State Representative Lamont Robinson urged Trinity Health officials to consider finding a buyer that could keep Mercy Hospital open.
At that time, Congressman Danny K. Davis also urged Trinity Health to reconsider its decision to close the hospital.
Mercy is Chicago’s oldest hospital. It was formed in a rooming house in 1852 near Rush Street and the Chicago River. By 1859, Mercy Hospital was the first Catholic hospital to affiliate with a medical school – Lind Medical School – and the first to require a graded curriculum. The hospital moved to a building at Wabash and Van Buren and was renamed Mercy Hospital and Orphan Asylum. In 1863, Mercy Hospital mo-ved to its present site at 26th Street and Calumet Avenue, in what at that time seemed like the far distant countryside of Chicago.