A quartet of hospitals on Chicago’s South Side are combining their assets to create a new hospital system, and their goal is to help patients live longer and healthier lives, as 60 percent of residents go to hospitals outside of the area.
Patients are hoping that the news of the merger between Mercy, South Shore, Advocate Trinity and St. Bernard will help to improve outcomes and quality of care.
“People want better service and I think that’d be the best thing for us,” one resident said.
Census data shows most South Side communities have significantly lower life expectancies than those on the North Side. In fact, NBC 5 Investigates found that South Side residents are up to 14 times more likely to develop diabetes than those who live near Wrigley Field.
“The way we have been going about it individually is unsustainable, so we’ve decided that coming together collectively can address access to care issues,” Charles Holland of St. Bernard Hospital said. “It could really improve patient care overall on the South Side of Chicago.”
Holland said that the new group doesn’t have a name, but they are hoping to bring back many residents who travel out of the area for hospital care. Plans include building three to six outpatient centers and a brand new modern major hospital.
“All of the hospital institutions that are part of this process are committed to the idea that nothing closes until something new is open and serving patients,” Holland said.
The new hospital group says the $1.1 billion investment will go a long way, but it will take more than a building to improve health.
“It’s not just a building that’s going to solve this problem,” Holland said. “It’s also being very involved in educating patients and helping to change patient behavior.”
The mayor’s office said it’s looking forward to the new integrated health care system, saying all residents deserve access to quality health care services close to home.
“The agreement announced today is an innovative proposal to ensure Chicago’s South Side residents have access to quality and accessible healthcare services,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
The new hospital system plans to announce a name and its leaders later this year. Funding for the project will come from private and public sources.