4 South Side hospitals to close, merge into new healthcare system

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CHICAGO — Four South Side hospitals are closing their doors and residents are now worried about what’s to come.

Instead of closing outright they are joining forces to form a new healthcare system for the South Side.

For years Advocate Trinity, Mercy Hospital, South Shore Hospital and St Bernard hospital have been trying to figure out what to do.

The safety net hospitals said keeping up with their old buildings and outdated medical equipment has become too expensive.

“I think the writing’s sort of been on the wall for several years but it’s gotten increasingly more intense,” Charles Holland, President and CEO of St. Bernard Hospital said.

Now the hospitals will now work together under a new name and new leadership to hopefully provide better health care to South Side residents.

The new company will open three to six family health care centers. They will be places where people can see a doctor, get birth control and preventative care so they don’t end up in the emergency room.

The new system will also offer a state-of-the-art hospital somewhere on the South Side.

“We’re hoping to get as much input from the community as we possibly can,” Holland said.

There is no timeline for the project. The hospitals first must sell their assets to a new company.

“We’ve committed the 4 presidents of these hospitals that nothing will close until something new is built,” Holland said.

The goal of the new system will be addressing the disparity in care on the South Side while providing new jobs. But with a price tag of 1.1 billion dollars the hospitals say they can’t afford it alone. They will be looking for some big donors.

Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement calling the plan “innovative.”

All Chicagoans deserve access to preventive care and quality services, close to home. The agreement announced today by Advocate Trinity Hospital, Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, South Shore Hospital and St. Bernard Hospital to become an independent, integrated health care system is an innovative proposal to ensure Chicago's south side residents have access to quality and accessible healthcare services. We celebrate the hospitals’ commitment to hearing directly from neighborhood leaders and area residents about local needs. The City also looks forward to close collaboration with the new entity to ensure that promoting health equity and economic growth in the region remain core to any transformation plans.

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services also released a statement that said

The challenges in our healthcare delivery system require public and private partnership. We are encouraged by this group’s goals to address inequities in healthcare access on the south side of Chicago and look forward to working with them as they continue to engage community members and leaders. We are ready and willing to talk to any provider that wants to explore coordinated solutions that will ensure ongoing access to needed services to promote health and wellness and empower communities across the state.

 

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