Mercy undergoing new $75 million renovation project
March 4, 2017

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center personnel and visitors cut the ribbon on Mercy’s newly renovated lobby, part of a major improvement project.

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center is in the midst of a $75 million renovation project, which started with the unveiling of its renovated lobby at its annual Holiday Toast event on January 19. The renovation also will include patient room remodeling; a new infusion center for patients requiring fluids, chemotherapy, and other treatments; infrastructure improvements; and relocating the center’s intensive care unit.

Founded in 1852, Mercy Hospital became Chicago’s first chartered teaching hospital. Now a member of Trinity Health, Mercy just celebrated the 50th anniversary of its current location at 2525 S. Michigan Ave. In 1967, the Sisters of Mercy instituted a Holiday Toast reception to thank those who donated to the hospital’s 1963 fundraising campaign, Tomorrow’s Mercy, to build the Michigan Avenue facility. Since then, Mercy has held the reception every January to celebrate the current location.

“The annual Holiday Toast not only commemorates the Sisters of Mercy’s move to a new building and a better future in 1967; it also honors the history forged by the Sisters of Mercy having always led the advancement of medicine in the City of Chicago,” said Carol Garikes Schneider, president and CEO of Mercy.

Calvestia Adams, a certified nursing assistant, has worked at Mercy Hospital for half a century and remembers the move to the current location. “This was my first job, and it will be my last job,” Adams said. “I love Mercy. It’s my home.” The renovated lobby opened to the public on February 13, complete with modern furniture and a new sculpture titled Lady Mercy.

The sculpture “will show everyone who enters how we are here to bring shelter and serenity to all,” Schneider said.

Mercy has completed its ninth and tenth floor renovations. The patient-friendly look offers a new front desk area and nursing station as well as new furniture and a brighter color scheme.

The project also will improve single patient rooms and nursing stations to give them “their own unique sense of style while retaining openness for patients to approach,” according to Eric Rhodes, senior vice president of administrative and professional services. The new infusion center will give patients easy access as well as more clinical space for treatment.

It also will “give the community a closer location to receive lifesaving cancer treatment,” Rhodes said. The intensive care unit will relocate to a completely renovated fourth floor, and the behavioral health unit will move to the sixth floor. ICU renovations will ensure patient privacy and rooms with a view. Improved behavioral health services will help the surrounding neighborhoods, Rhodes said. A major aspect of the renovation, although not as apparent as new furniture, art, and clinical facilities, is the physical infrastructure vital to everyday hospital operations. Workers will install a new emergency generator and air hauling units to regulate and circulate airflow.

Schneider said patient and staff feedback has been positive concerning the more open feel in renovated areas.

“These improvements are evidence of our long term commitment to our patients, employees,’ and the surrounding community,” Schneider said. “Our goal is to improve the patient care experience by enhancing privacy, offering the most advanced technology, and making it more convenient to access our inpatient and outpatient services. This heavy investment in our physical infrastructure means one thing: Mercy is here to stay. We have a history of always being there for those in need, and we will continue the mission started by those five sisters who arrived on the shore of Lake Michigan” in the 19th century.

Officials expect Mercy Hospital’s renovations to conclude in 2019. Around 100 people attended the Holiday Toast, including Bishop Joseph Perry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle, and Cook County commissioner John Daley. Bishop Perry recounted a story from 1897, when an African American man needed medical care and Mercy took him in when some other hospitals would not. That person was the Rev. Augustus Tolton, whom the Vatican now is considering for sainthood.

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— Gina Catalano