Casino Opens
1300 Hospital Jobs Lost with Mercy Closure

Mercy Hospital will close

Mounting losses force decision;

east-side health care is jeopardized

December 16, 1999



Mercy Hospital could close as early as January,

officials said, finally surrendering to mounting

multimillion-dollar losses, leaving 1,300 employees

without jobs and jeopardizing access to health

care on Detroit's east side.

Officials from the hospital and Mercy Health

Services Inc., the Farmington Hills-based

company that owns the facility, will meet today

with other health systems such as Henry Ford

Health System and the Detroit Medical Center to

devise an 11th-hour plan to keep the hospital

open in some form.

But all indicators suggest that the hospital will

close and possibly reopen providing some sort of

limited community outreach services.

"It's been a very difficult decision for us," said

Stephen Shivinsky, associate vice president for

corporate communications for Mercy Health


Mercy Health Services plans to continue the

Catholic-sponsored ministry in Detroit by giving

$2 million annually to help people in the

low-income community have access to care.

About 80 percent of Mercy's patient population

relies on Medicare, Medicaid and other

government-sponsored insurance programs. With

the recent cuts in those programs, the financial

pressure has become too great for the hospital to

withstand, Shivinsky said.

He said the hospital has been losing $2 million

each month.

Since July, Mercy reduced its staff by 185

full-time employees and restructured hospital

programs to stay afloat.

Meetings have been scheduled throughout the day

today to discuss the closure with employees.

Management will try to place employees in other

jobs within the system, but there are no

guarantees, said Sister Linda Werthman, president

of regional community leadership for the Sisters of

Mercy's Detroit community.

"We have colleagues at Mercy who have worked

extremely hard under very difficult conditions," she

said. "It's like saying to family that your services

may or may not be used in other parts of the


SHERYL KENNEDY can be reached at

313-222-8762 or