Mercy Hospital not allowed to close after unanimous review board vote

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois Hospital Facilities and Services Review Board voted unanimously Tuesday to deny Mercy Hospital's application to close early next year.

That allows for Mercy to resubmit their application at a later time.

The Bronzeville neighborhood hospital and Chicago's oldest, serves mostly low-income residents, the elderly and people of color.

RELATED: Community groups call on mayor, governor to save Chicago's Mercy Hospital from closing amid pandemic

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Community and faith-based groups came together Tuesday to protest the looming closure of Mercy Hospital.

"I've had two strokes and two heart attacks and if it was not for Mercy being here, I don't where I would go," said Brenda Moore.

Moore was one of dozens of residents, hospital patients, activists and medical professionals who offered testimony at the board's hearing.

The next closest hospital is several miles away. It's closure would create what the community calls a health care desert on the South Side.

"We think this is Trinity's opportunity to sell Mercy to one of the hospitals in invest in groups that have expressed interest," said community activist Jitu Brown.

Mercy Hospital is owned by Trinity Health.

"I know that the burden placed upon you is heavy, I also know that the history is literally the history of Chicago," said John Capasso, a Trinity Health executive vice president.

Trinity health has expressed wanting to close because there are too many empty hospital beds and on-going operational losses of $4 million dollars a month.

This closure application follows a failed plan by Trinity to consolidate resources with several other neighborhood safety net hospitals and get funding from Springfield.

"My hope is the legislature will actually take this up to get things back on track and provide some support to the safety net hospitals," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The hospital's closure which was set to happen between February and May of 2021 is now uncertain.

Trinity still has plans to building a $13 million outpatient center a couple of miles from Mercy Hospital. The state health board is expected to make a decision about that next month.
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