Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in the Near South Side neighborhood on March 29, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

BRONZEVILLE — Insight Hospital and Medical Center, formerly known as Mercy Hospital, has resumed receiving ambulances at its emergency department this month after a year’s hiatus.

The hospital at 2525 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville was granted comprehensive emergency department designation last month by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Chicago Fire Department has already added it to its routes, said fire department spokesman Larry Langford.

The move will relieve some of the burden taken on by the University of Chicago Medical Center while the Bronzeville hospital was unable to accept ambulances, Langford said.

Insight expects to serve more patients with the change.

“Even without ambulances bringing patients to Insight Hospital, we still serviced almost 12,000 driveup and walk-in emergency room patients from June 2021 through the end of the year,” said Dr. Anita Goyal, the head of emergency medicine at Insight. “This is significantly lower than the 25,000 patients we have typically seen in the emergency room during that same period, but we are very excited to resume receiving patients brought by ambulance to our critical care emergency department.” 

Insight Chicago took over the hospital in April, buying the facility from Trinity Health for $1. The hospital had been plagued by financial issues for years and was on the brink of closing before the Michigan-based health care company assumed ownership.

At the time, CEO Jawad Shah said hospital leaders would focus on the “nuts and bolts” of rebuilding. Shah said Insight would do its best to restore several departments, including emergency and operating rooms, obstetrics and behavioral health.

Shannon Bennett, executive director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization and member of the Chicago Health Equity Coalition, sees the return of ambulances as a win for the community. Bennett’s organization spent years fighting to keep the hospital open.

Bennett said Insight needs to be more communicative with residents, but she is cautiously optimistic the designation means improved care for South Side residents. The announcement wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of Chicago Health Equity Coalition members like Etta Davis and Frances Banks, Bennett said.

“We are pleased. … We’re currently in conversations about a few things to make sure that we’re able to impact, and give feedback from a community perspective,” Bennett said.

A community celebration and emergency room opening ceremony are planned for early March.

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