Coalition demands community involvement in sale of Mercy Hospital
The Chicago Health Equity Coalition celebrated Trinity Health Systems’ decision to sell Mercy Hospital. Now they hope that they can oversee the selling process.
Members of the Chicago Health Equity Coalition gathered outside of Mercy Hospital on Friday to call on owner Trinity Health Systems to involve community members in the sale process.
The hospital announced Wednesday it has signed a nonbinding agreement with Insight Chicago to sell the historic South Side hospital just months before it’s expected to close its doors for good. Mercy Hospital filed bankruptcy in February.
CHEC, which is made up of several unions and community groups, has been protesting the closure of the hospital since August.
“The folks that represent these doctors, nurses and health care professionals know that we had to band together and lock arms to save this hospital, and we did,” said Shannon Bennett, executive director of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. KOCO helped found the coalition in August in response to Trinity’s decision to close the hospital.
However, the coalition believes Trinity has not gone far enough to involve community members in the decision-making process.
The coalition wants Mercy to remain a teaching hospital, maintain the same number of inpatient services, avoid downsizing the emergency room, maintain a wide array of services, and include community members and medical experts on Mercy’s board of directors.
The coalition said it plans to meet with Insight Chicago on Tuesday and it plans to meet with several other potential buyers including Norwegian Hospital, Mercy Hospitals Acquisitions LLC, and a group of African American doctors.
“If we want something different, we’ve got to do something different,” said Rod Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center and a CHEC member. “Having the community in some decision-making role in what services are provided is a step toward doing something different.”
CHEC said its next move is to open lines of communication between the coalition, Trinity and potential buyers. Coalition members plan to testify at a state hearing March 16 with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board that will determine if Trinity can sell the hospital.