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Analysis

South Side Chicago Hospital Merger Called Off

By Jack O'Brien  
   May 26, 2020

Four hospitals in South Chicago signed a nonbinding merger agreement to form an "independent, integrated healthcare system" in January.

The planned merger of four hospitals located on the South Side of Chicago was called off Tuesday afternoon.

Advocate Trinity Hospital, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, South Shore Hospital, and St. Bernard Hospital signed a nonbinding merger agreement in January to form an "independent, integrated healthcare system" with $1.1 billion in assets.

Related: Advocate Trinity, Mercy Presidents Detail Plans to Merge Chicago Hospitals

However, in a letter sent to the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services, the four providers cited the establishment of the Hospital Transformation Fund as giving the organizations "no path forward for our project that would transform health care on the South Side and help address disparities in health for the patients we serve."

"We have grave concerns about this development, and we believe this action will force hospital closures, cause further service cuts, and push access to care even further out of reach for the families we serve," the letter read.

Additionally, the four providers stated that the legislation will "perpetuate dangerous conditions that claim the lives of African Americans" and "maintain this status quo rather than put the South Side on a desperately needed path toward transformation."

Related: An Exclusive Look at the Reborn Cook County Hospital: Once Facing the Wrecking Ball, the West Side Landmark is About to Reemerge, Beautifully Remade

In an interview with HealthLeaders shortly after the merger plans were announced, Carol Schneider, president of Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, said the status quo "is not sustainable," which prompted Mercy and the three other hospitals to look at a merger.

"[We cannot] have our residents face significantly lower life expectancies and other things that clearly show disparities in healthcare on the South Side," Schneider said.

At the same time as Schneider's comments, Rashard Johnson, president of Advocate Trinity Hospital, told HealthLeaders that one issue that spurred his organization to act was the 30-year life expectancy gap in Chicago, among the largest in the country, according to research from NYU Langone Health.

Last month, Book Club Chicago reported that the merger was slated to be finalized in June.

Related: South Side Hospital Merger Set to be Finalized in June, Combining 4 Struggling Facilities

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


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