The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board has approved a change in ownership of Chicago’s Mercy Hospital Monday, approving a sale to a Michigan-based company.
The decision was met with mixed reactions Monday, with some local activists saying that more time should be given for a local buyer to purchase the hospital, while officials with Insight Chicago Inc., a subsidiary of Flint-based Insight Inc., say that their bid to purchase the hospital will benefit the community it serves, keeping the facility open “for the long haul.”
According to filings, the transfer of ownership was agreed to at a price of $1. The decision was made following a virtual review board meeting Monday.
“We want world-class health care on the south side of Chicago,” Dr. Naveed Mallick, a Kenwood resident and an internist and sleep specialist, said. “Insight can deliver. Let’s not deprive them of that opportunity.”
Mallick, who has lived and practiced on Chicago's South Side for 20 years, was one of several individuals who spoke out in favor of the plan during a public comment session prior to the vote.
The battle over Mercy Hospital’s future has been going on for years, with a potential closure of the hospital floated on multiple occasions.
According to documents filed prior to the vote, the name of the hospital will change, and it will no longer operate as a Catholic facility. Insight does not plan to cut any current services.
Insight told NBC 5 they had hoped to keep the name “Mercy,” but as part of its negotiations, Trinity will assume the current debt and “Mercy” brand.
“Our intention is to operate at full-service,” Insight CEO Dr. Jawad Shah said. “We are in this for the long haul.”
Mercy is Chicago’s oldest hospital. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February after the state of Illinois rejected its plans to close.
While officials argue a sale to Insight would secure the hospital’s future on the South Side, some activists are opposed to the sale, saying that more time should be given to properly vet and encourage local buyers to step forward.
“The people directly impacted by this must be able to say how these institutions function,” Jitu Brown, board president of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and a member of the Chicago Health Equity Coalition, said. “Trinity Health Systems has proven it is a bad actor. They can’t be trusted.”