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Mercy Philadelphia Hospital first disclosed plans to terminate inpatient care in February. (Photo from Ann D'Antonio)

Penn Medicine announced plans on Thursday to lead a group of non-profits to save Mercy Philadelphia Hospital from closure.

Penn will join forces with Public Health Management Corporation, Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic, and Independence Blue Cross to continue to operate the hospital, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The announcement comes several months after Mercy first disclosed plans to terminate inpatient care in February.

Under the new agreement, beginning in March 2021, Penn Medicine will lease the 600,000 square foot hospital from PHMC to operate the emergency department and a total of 80-100 inpatient beds, The Inquirer reported. The site will serve as a secondary location of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Independence Blue Cross, the region's largest insurer, will provide $5 million to support the Mercy Senior Center and fight hunger. Trinity Mid-Atlantic, Mercy’s current owner, will continue offering care and overseeing the Mercy Senior Center, the Inquirer reported.

Penn Med is authorized to spend up to $30 million to support Mercy, University Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said at the Board of Trustees' Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Thursday. 

"It really is a unique opportunity to ensure that the services provided [to] our West Philadelphia neighbors are stable and meet their needs," Mahoney said.

The plans to save Mercy arrive one year after Hahnemann University Hospital’s closure in September 2019. 

“We talked about how to make this transition the anti-Hahnemann,” Chief Executive of the University of Pennsylvania Health System Kevin Mahoney told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Leaders of the coalition to save Mercy told The Inquirer that Mercy’s preservation is especially important in the context of the racial and social inequities laid bare by COVID-19. Located at 501 S. 54th St in West Philadelphia, Mercy prevents West Philadelphians, who are predominantly Black and low-income, from having to travel an extra 2.3 miles to HUP, The Inquirer reported.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has underscored the necessity of working together past the walls of individual institutions – collaboration and bringing together diverse expertise is the best way to make a difference for our communities,” Mahoney told The Inquirer.

Mercy’s new leadership will also seek to prevent the financial losses that almost resulted in its closure, WHYY NPR reported. Mahoney plans to reduce the number of inpatient beds and eventually shift focus to primary and preventative care.

"This unique collaboration will put the priorities and needs of West Philadelphia residents front and center," Chief Executive Officer of Independence Blue Cross Daniel Hilferty told Penn Medicine News. "Together, we will enhance access to a range of services, with a new model for community health including critical social services to close the health gaps and inequities which have existed for far too long.”