By Alexandria Hoff


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The future of Mercy Hospital may be a little more clear. Less than a week after the hospital’s owners announced inpatient care would be ending, city and state leaders held a special community meeting in Cobbs Creek on Monday night.

Mercy Hospital has been serving the West Philadelphia community for over 100 years. So it came as a shock to many when they announced that Mercy Hospital was suffering from serious financial issues and the hospital would be cutting inpatient services.

Over 100 people gathered inside of the Church of Christian Compassion in West Philadelphia out of concern for what many consider the community’s longtime lifeblood, Mercy Hospital.

One attendee, Helena Speller, says that it was Mercy that caught her cancer early.

“As of March 5, I will be an 11-year breast cancer survivor,” Speller said.

Speller’s family has received care at Mercy Hospital for five generations.

“We the community are going to work with them,” Speller said.

And the hospital needs the help. Last week, leadership from Mercy’s parent health system, Trinity Mid-Atlantic, announced it would be cutting inpatient services.

“Tonight was really about a listening session with the community because it’s scary stuff,” Trinity President and CEO Jim Woodward said.

While fielding questions from community members, Trinity’s president explained the hospital has no plans to close but has been losing well over $1 million a month.

“We realized several months ago after doing some analysis that the way we are providing care today is not sustainable long-term, so we are looking at options as to how we can transition the campus,” Woodward said.

Its plan now is to explore possible partnerships that could preserve Mercy’s status as a hospital that continues its faith-based mission of serving the underserved.

“Our colleagues, our medical staff, our community is very important to us,” Woodward said.

A potential partnership has not been set in stone but Woodward says that the hope would be to continue inpatient behavioral health services and operate a downsized emergency room department of about 30 beds.

One major question would be what might happen to the almost 900 employees of Mercy Philadelphia. Right now, leadership believes those jobs could be largely preserved if a partnership works out, and if not, they could be transferred to other local hospitals in the Trinity system.

Speller says the meeting left her optimistic.

“I am so glad and we are going to have more dialogue in the community and more people will be out so I’m very happy for the meeting this evening,” Speller said.

Mercy does not plan to close. If a planned partnership does not work out, Mercy would have to provide the city with 180 days notice of closure.

Alexandria Hoff