mercy hosp 081920CHICAGO – Mercy Hospital announced plans to close by May 2021 last month, and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is advocating against it, saying Mercy should remain open.

“This decision could devastate our community, which is already struggling in the middle of this global pandemic,” Hunter said. “Mercy owners requested hundreds of millions of dollars just to close it down, and turn it into a clinic. But we don’t need a clinic, we need a hospital, which has the resources necessary to save lives in times of urgency and in times of severe illness.”

In March, Mercy announced plans to merge South Shore Hospital, Advocate Trinity Hospital and St. Bernard Hospital, but failed to gain the financial support necessary to do so.

Though Mercy hospital has served as a safety net for more than 50,000 patients a year, employing 1,700 people, it has been struggling with finances for quite some time. Losing approximately $4 million a month, the hospital cannot afford to stay open.

More than 80% of the population it serves is economically challenged, underserved, underprivileged and uninsured, including 62% of Chicago’s African American population and 37% of the Hispanic population.

“The absence of this hospital would result in a health and trauma desert, and create unnecessary hardships for those who are already underprivileged,” Hunter said. “I’ve been working with the Department of Human Services to seek possible solutions and pursue other hospitals.”

Last year a study from the University of Chicago found that 73% of census tracts with a mostly Black population were located in trauma deserts. Further, a Jama study revealed that Black-majority census tracts are the only racial/ethnic group consistently associated with disparities in geographic access to trauma centers, due to a deep history of racist policies that have fueled generational poverty. 

Mercy is considered Chicago’s oldest hospital, which survived the great Chicago fire in 1871, nearly 20 years after its inception. It has been acclaimed for its innovation in technology and research.