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New owners want former Mercy Hospital to do more than simply survive

Insight Chicago took over running the hospital this week.

Insight founder Dr. Jawad Shah speaks at a dedication ceremony June 4, 2021, outside Insight Hospital and Medical Center, 2525 S. Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville.
Insight Chicago founder Dr. Jawad Shah talks about his plans for the future of Insight Hospital and Medical Center in Bronzeville.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The new owners of the former Mercy Hospital and Medical Center said Friday that they want the Bronzeville facility to not simply survive but to offer world-class care and become a destination center for people from across the nation.

“We intend for this hospital to become something spectacular,” said Dr. Jawad Shah, founder of Insight Chicago, which began running the safety net hospital this week.

Shah was speaking during an open-air event at the newly renamed Insight Hospital and Medical Center that featured dozens of Insight employees and a host of local politicians.

“We are committed to operating a full-service community hospital, implementing an impact plan that will increase services and meet community needs, restore the hospital as a teaching facility and restore a comprehensive emergency department,” Shah said.

Insight finalized a deal with the former owners, Trinity Health, in April — a deal that requires the new owners, a Michigan-based not-for-profit, to continue operating the hospital as a full-service community acute care facility in exchange for ownership of the building, its equipment and parking facilities.

In addition to the ER, Insight has promised to offer a rehabilitation center, stroke programs, behavioral health assistance, an obstetrics unit, intensive care unit and inpatient medical surgical beds. They are also expected to maintain Mercy’s current charity care policies, company officials have said.

Insight’s purchase brought to an end a nearly yearlong saga that began when Mercy announced plans to close its doors last July, citing millions of dollars of losses per month. The announcement led to protests and rallies from activists who see the hospital as a vital part of the community.

The hospital filed for bankruptcy in February after the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board rejected Trinity’s plan to close. The hospital’s future was up in the air until the board approved its sale to Insight Chicago in late March.

Atif Bawahab, Insight’s CEO, said Friday he understood that his team has been seen as something of an unknown, “a bit of an outsider.”

“Today is a testament to us bridging that gap,” he said.

Dru Rozewicki, the hospital’s lead radiation therapist, said he’s optimistic about Insight’s takeover.

“From what I’ve heard, I’d say people are open to having somebody come here and actually care about the community, put other people first and not just look at the bottom line per se,” Rozewicki said. “From what I’ve read about [Insight], it seems like they do a lot of good.”

Hospital representatives and supporters celebrate and release butterflies Friday as Insight Hospital and Medical Center Chicago opens to the public.
Hospital representatives and supporters celebrate and release butterflies Friday as Insight Hospital and Medical Center Chicago opens to the public.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times