Mercy Hospital deal: Activists fight to keep facility full-service after TIF zone nullified

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's oldest hospital is slated to remain open as a comprehensive medical center after a deal was reached to sell it for $1 to a Michigan-based health care system.

"Praise God. I'm so happy," said Dr. Bernadette Anderson. "Many people work there. We live in the area and they depend on Mercy hospital, not only for their livelihood but the people who go there and depend on Mercy Hospital for their health and care."

The deal announced Saturday promises to keep the Bronzeville hospital open after months of uncertainty.

RELATED: Mercy Hospital finalizes sale for $1 with Insight Chicago to keep doors open in Bronzeville

A coalition of community members, labor, medical staff and administrators banded together last summer when the hospital said it had to close due to losses upwards of $4 million per month.

"This is one of the most exciting historic examples of the might of people," said Shannon Bennett, executive director for Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

The agreement between Mercy and Insight Chicago requires Insight to continue operating the safety net institution in exchange for ownership of the building, its equipment and parking facilities.

RELATED: Chicago Health Equity Coalition claims victory as Mercy Hospital remains open

"We need a hospital," said patient and area resident Thomas Beaugard. "Some people have to go all the way out to the suburbs and if you have Medicare, some hospitals may not receive your plan."

Mercy's possible closure sparked backlash from those who felt closing a South Side hospital in the middle of a pandemic was wrong, especially given COVID-19's disproportionate harm to Black and Brown people in Chicago.

Activists said they will demand a say in how the new Mercy runs.

"We want equitable representation on the governing board of the hospital. That is unheard of, that is historic, that's a lot but we are not shying away from that," Bennett said. "Insight has heard that from day one we are going to see if they are held accountable for that."

In February, the hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board rejected their application to close. Its future was up in the air until the board reluctantly approved its sale to Insight Chicago in late March.

The sale is expected to close May 31, the companies said, and Mercy will now look to dismiss its bankruptcy cases.
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