Chicago Health Equity Coalition claim victory as Mercy Hospital remains open, seek trust, transparency with new ownership

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Community activists, union members and others that make up the Chicago Health Equity Coalition claimed victory for helping to keep Mercy Hospital open.

"We fought and we what? Won," said Shannon Bennett, executive director of KOCO.

The group said their fight is far from over.

"I just hate to think if Mercy had closed, time lost and lives lost," said Etta Davis, Bronzeville resident and Mercy Hospital patient.

Coalition members gathered outside the Near South Side hospital to have their demands heard as the community became involved in the sale and transition of the 292-bed teaching hospital.

"This is the mission that the sisters of Mercy tied to this property, and that we, as a coalition, are committed to continue," said Christine Pao, Saint James Catholic Church.

Since filing bankruptcy in February, Mercy Hospital's owner, Trinity Health Systems, signed a non-binding agreement with a Michigan-based health services company, Insight Chicago, to buy the hospital.

"You said that you have intentions on making it a full service hospital. We're going to check that," said Rev. Robin Hood, Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere.

The coalition wants to a governing board to be established where they would have equal representation.

"We need to make sure that no other hospital in Illinois, no other community experiences what the folks here have experienced through Trinity," said Greg Kelly, Service Employees International Union president.

Members also are in support of Illinois House Bill 3657, which among other things, makes it more difficult to shutter a safety net hospital.

"We're seeing sicker pathology. We're seeing sicker patients at other hospitals in our area, you know. Medicine doesn't happen in a vacuum," said Dr. Anudeep Dasaraju, emergency room resident.

The group said they are still in talks with Insight Chicago to create trust and transparency.

The new owner of Mercy Hospital will take over no later than June 1.
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