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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Mercy Hospital To Close In 2021 After Plans To Merge With 3 South Side Hospitals Fell Through

A closure date is yet to be finalized, though it will occur between February and May.

Mercy Hospital is one of four hospitals that would have combined under a $1.1 billion merger proposal that failed in May.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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NEAR SOUTH SIDE — Mercy Hospital and Medical Center will close next year, hospital officials confirmed Wednesday.

The announcement, first reported by WBEZ, comes just two months after a billion-dollar plan to consolidate Mercy Hospital with three other South Side hospitals fell apart. A closure date has yet to be finalized, though it will occur between Feb. 1 and May 31.

Officials cited severe financial problems at the hospital, such as monthly operating losses of $4 million and an estimated $100 million in necessary renovations over the next five years, and shifting trends in the field of health care.

The $1.1 billion plan to merge with Advocate Trinity, South Shore and St. Bernard hospitals leaned heavily on a request for $520 million in state hospital transformation funding. The failed consolidation would have replaced the four existing hospitals with one or two new “destination hospitals” and three to six community health centers.

The Illinois Legislature passed SB 2541 in May, which creates a “hospital and health care transformation program” for communities with “significant health care disparities.”

But an “11th-hour shift” left the South Side consolidation project out of the legislation, hospital officials said in a May 26 letter to the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services. They warned the lack of funding would likely force hospital closures and service cuts.

As Mercy Hospital is phased out, officials are developing plans for an outpatient care center to provide diagnostics, urgent care and preventative care. The center will have the capacity to treat more than 50,000 patients, according to a fact sheet released by the hospital.

Health care is facing a shift toward outpatient services, like early diagnosis of illnesses and diseases, better coordination among providers to treat chronic diseases and more accessible urgent care, Mercy officials said.

Though the decision to shutter Mercy Hospital “was not an easy one,” South Siders “have unmet needs within the current system” that will be addressed by the outpatient care center, Mercy Hospital president Carol Schneider said in a statement.

“The transformation from an inpatient model to one with greater access to outpatient services will better address the disparate outcomes in health from which our community suffers today,” Schnieder said.

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