1200px Mercy Hospital 2525 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago ILCHICAGO – Earlier this year, Trinity Health announced it would close Mercy Hospital and Medical Center by 2021, which has been widely opposed by community members, health care officials and many legislators – including State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). Those opposed hosted a press conference Friday morning, and urged that Mercy stay open, even if the ownership must change.

“Closing Mercy Hospital due to financial costs, as has been the justification when other safety nets have been shuttered, is not a solution,” Hunter said. ”The financial issues faced in our health care system are multi-faceted, and will require a different approach. Re-evaluating nonprofits tax exempt status may be a part of that approach.”

Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s hospitals are nonprofits, which often claim a tax exempt status. These tax exempt dollars are supposed to go back into the communities these hospitals serve, helping to lower the cost of health care for those who can’t afford it. Instead, these dollars are going to seven-figure salaries and extravagant expenses.

Trinity Health, which also owns Loyola Medicine in Illinois, reported $18.8 billion in operating revenue for Fiscal Year 2020, despite losses caused by the pandemic.

“Trinity asked the state for $500 million, for what? I don’t want to give them more money if they don’t want to stay in our community,” Hunter said. “If Trinity wants to sell Mercy, they should renounce ownership, but leave Mercy and its services as a resource to the community. Let us, as legislators and community officials, join together to remind our residents of color that they are seen, and that they deserve the right to affordable care.”

Legislators called for Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor JB Pritzker to step in. Pritzker sent a letter to Trinity Health’s CEO Michael Slubowski Thursday, urging for a partnership with the General Assembly. Hunter said, however, that’s not enough, which lead her and other legislators to demand a moratorium on hospital closures through the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.