pexels evg culture 1170979CHICAGO – Diving further into racial disparities in the health care system, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) held a hearing Monday to analyze the differences in access to health care, and is demanding that every Illinoisan have equal opportunities to quality and affordable health care.

“The time it takes to reach the hospital can determine whether someone lives or dies,” Hunter said. “Safety net hospitals are the only option some Black and Brown people have, yet they are extremely underfunded and continue to be closed down. This is a trend that must not continue, or many of our neighbors will end up at a grave inconvenience, or worse, dead.”

During the hearing, physicians and hospital executives advocated for the need of safety net hospitals, which provide patients who need emergency care with options that are nearby and affordable. However, due to lack of revenue, many of these safety net hospitals that residents depend on are closing down, including Mercy Hospital, which is expected to close in 2021.

“Black and Brown people are overwhelmingly represented on the front lines, and they suffer for it,” Hunter said. “Throughout the pandemic, they’ve put others first, exposing themselves to a virus that they are more likely to die from, in part, because they live in areas with inferior health care options. No one’s ZIP code or race should determine what kind of health care they receive. We must do better for our essential workers.”

According to Dr. Adele Cobbs, who works in emergency medicine at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Mercy is the second largest provider of maternity care on Chicago’s Southside, and closing it would leave the Southside with just three delivery centers.

Vice President and Director of SEIU Healthcare Anne Igoe echoed that the loss of Mercy would lead to harm, stating that Illinois does have a health care crisis, as it does not prioritize all care. Safety nets are struggling while other hospitals bring in billions of dollars in revenue. Igoe said it is a multi-pronged problem that will require a multi-pronged solution, one that needs to emphasize patients getting the care they deserve.

Hunter is expected to speak specifically about the closing of Mercy Hospital at a press conference Friday at 10 a.m. on the corner of 26th and Indiana in Chicago.

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