Some Urban Hospitals Face Closure Or Cutbacks As The Pandemic Adds To Fiscal Woes

Victor Coronado felt lightheaded one morning last month when he stood up to grab an iced tea. The right side of his body suddenly felt heavy. He heard himself slur his words. "That's when I knew I was going to have a stroke," he recalls. Coronado was rushed to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, the hospital nearest his home on Chicago's South Side. Doctors there pumped medicine into his veins to break up the clot that had traveled to his brain. Coronado may outlive the hospital that saved him. Founded 168 years ago as the city's first hospital, Mercy survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but is succumbing to modern economics, which have underfinanced hospitals serving the poor. In July, the 412-bed hospital informed state regulators that it planned to shutter all inpatient services as soon as February. "If something else happens, who is to say if the responders can get my husband to the nearest hospital?" says Coronado's wife, Sallie.