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Illinois board rejects plans to shut important South Aspect Chicago hospital


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In a victory for well being advocates and neighborhood members in Chicago, a evaluation board has unanimously rejected a plan to shutter a safety-net hospital that might have possible worsened the medical desert on the town’s predominantly Black South Aspect.

The 6-0 resolution got here after activists rallied in assist of Mercy, and after hours of often-emotional public remark Tuesday – together with from the previous Illinois governor Pat Quinn and a consultant for the present governor, JB Pritzker – towards Michigan-based Trinity Well being’s plan to shut the power early subsequent 12 months, regardless of the pandemic.

“I don’t imagine that Mercy has made an inexpensive case that [the closure] is not going to have an especially adverse impression on the South Aspect of Chicago,” Dr Linda Rae Murray, a member of the Illinois well being amenities and companies evaluation board, mentioned in voting towards Trinity’s plan to close down the hospital.

“I’m actually distressed that this is occurring within the midst of a world pandemic,” Murray added, calling the notion “unconscionable in my thoughts”.

Mercy, situated within the historic Black neighborhood of Bronzeville, is the oldest hospital in Chicago, and serves a primarily Black, poor and aged neighborhood – a inhabitants that has been particularly arduous hit by the coronavirus disaster.

Trinity, which operates hospitals nationwide, introduced over the summer season that it deliberate to shut the power within the first half of 2021 as a result of it was not viable financially.

However healthcare advocates and neighborhood members have been outraged, saying it could go away Black Chicagoans on the South Aspect with even fewer sources. “If this hospital closes, folks will die,” Pastor Robert Jones mentioned at a “Mercy Week” demonstration right here final week, forward of the evaluation board assembly.

Neighborhood members and healthcare professionals continued to sentence the deliberate closure in the course of the digital board assembly Tuesday. “The [medical desert] would get drier” if Mercy closed, mentioned Dr John Picken, a longtime obstetrician on the hospital.

“Mercy has been the one facility I’ve been capable of go to,” one resident of the Dearborn Properties public housing within the neighborhood informed the board. “If it was not for Mercy being there, I don’t know the place I’d go.”

Trinity defended the plan, saying it “accounted for the pandemic” and that it was not “abandoning” the hospital, however “remodeling” it to offer a “new mannequin of care” for the neighborhood with an outpatient facility it mentioned it could open later in 2021.

“The one path ahead for Mercy hospital is transformation,” John Capasso, an govt vice-president at Trinity Well being, mentioned on the assembly.

However board members have been skeptical of the plan. “I don’t see how this provides something, to be sincere with you,” mentioned Murray. “This actually does sound like only a closure.”

The risk to Mercy comes amid an increase of medical deserts throughout the nation in rural areas and in cities. In locations like Chicago, the pattern has had a disproportionate impression on Black and brown communities.

Forward of the vote, Debra Savage, the HFSRB chair, mentioned she was “not satisfied” the proposed outpatient middle can be adequate to fill the hole left by Mercy’s closure.

The ruling is a victory for individuals who say Mercy is a needed useful resource in an underserved neighborhood. However there stays some uncertainty over the way forward for the hospital: Trinity has a chance to look once more earlier than the board, and will argue its case in court docket if it nonetheless doesn’t get approval for the closure.



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