Into America

Critical Condition

Episode Summary

Chicago’s oldest hospital is slated to close next year. Activists from the South Side are fighting to keep its doors open.

Episode Notes

In Chicago, one of the most segregated American cities, race and proximity to quality healthcare are inextricably linked, and the divide has been exacerbated COVID19 continues to infect and kill Black people disproportionately.

At the same time, Black Chicagoans are seeing hospitals in their communities closing at an alarming rate. Since 2018, three hospitals have closed on the South and West sides. And now a fourth, Mercy Hospital, the oldest in the city, is slated to close next year.

Host Trymaine Lee talks to activist Jitu Brown, who says Mercy has a duty to remain open and continue to serve the mostly Black surrounding neighborhoods. Etta Davis, a patient at Mercy, says the hospital’s plan to open a new outpatient clinic makes her worried about what could happen in an emergency.

But Dr. Thomas Britt of the Health Policy Institute of Chicago, says Mercy, which loses $4 million a month, is in too much debt and serves too many underinsured patients to continue to under its current model. He says elected officials and healthcare providers need to think outside the box to better serve communities.

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