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Mercy Hospital enters deal that could keep historic Bronzeville hospital from closing

Mercy, which is owned by Trinity Health, has entered a non-binding agreement with Insight Chicago to buy the South Side hospital, Mercy said in a statement Wednesday.

Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., on the South Side 
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center might not be closing after all.

Mercy, which is owned by Trinity Health, has entered into a non-binding agreement with Insight Chicago to buy the historic South Side hospital just months before it’s expected to shutter its doors for good.

If the sale of the 258-bed medical center goes through, Insight Chicago, an Illinois not-for-profit affiliated with a Michigan health system, plans to keep Mercy running as a full-service acute care hospital for the benefit of the Bronzeville community, Mercy said in a statement.

Insight Chicago on Wednesday filed a certificate of exemption application with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, the statement said. Mercy and Insight Chicago will continue to negotiate the terms of the sale over the coming weeks.

This is the latest turn of events involving Mercy, the city’s first hospital, which last summer announced its controversial plan to close in 2021.

Mercy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, saying it was losing staff and experiencing “mounting financial losses” which challenged its ability to maintain a safe environment. The move came just two weeks after a state review board rejected Trinity Health’s proposal to open an urgent care and diagnostic center on the South Side. The same board unanimously rejected a plan in December to close Mercy.

Mercy — which was the site of a deadly shooting in November 2018 — was set to merge with three other South Side hospitals struggling financially, though that plan fell through due to a lack of state funding.

Until the pending deal with Insight Chicago is signed, Mercy’s overall plans for the hospital remain unchanged, the hospital said. As of now, it’s expected to cease operation May 31. If the agreement is finalized before then, Mercy will help Insight Chicago in transitioning services, according to the statement.

Regardless, Mercy still plans to open a care center sometime this year. The clinic will offer urgent care, imaging services and care coordination, Mercy said.