September 28, 2020

Activists call for officials to step in and keep Mercy Hospital open on the South Side

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CHICAGO  — Mercy Hospital in Bronzeville is one of the oldest in the city, and while it’s set to close its doors by June 2021, a group of community leaders are calling on the state to step in and keep it open.

Mercy Hospital patient Etta Davis said once it closes, she doesn’t know where she’ll go.

“We Black and brown people are dying of COVID19,” Davis said. “This is my hospital, this is where the doctors that I trust work; what am I and other residents of my community going to do if this hospital closes down?”

Residents say they’re appalled that the hospital serving Chicago’s South Side at 2525 S Michigan Ave. would close during a pandemic.  

“To close a hospital is not only unconscionable, but it’s morally wrong,” said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (D-25th Ward).

Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization is drawing attention to the issue, saying closing Mercy Hospital would only make Chicago’s racial healthcare gap worse, as more than 80 percent of the population it serves is under-priviledged and uninsured.  

”We’re not asking for a handout, this is what most Chicagoans take for granted, most Chicagoans don’t have to worry about if there’s a hospital in my neighborhood,” said Jitu Brown, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

“You kill the institutions, the people leave; we’re very concerned that we have a deafening silence from those who claim to be our leadership, where is governor Pritzker on this?” Brown said.

The group is calling on city and state leaders to step in, urging them to fully fund the hospital or at least give it the money needed to consolidate so patients like Etta Davis can get adequate healthcare.  

“We have always had sub-standard care in our communities and now instead of helping improve the only hospital in our area, you slap us in the face again by talking about closing it down,” Davis said.

Earlier this year, Mercy Hospital proposed a plan to merge with other local hospitals, but they didn’t receive the necessary funding from the state.  

Governor JB Pritzker’s team didn’t provide comment for the story as of Wednesday night.