“It’s a privilege we don’t take lightly,” Mercy Health President Bob Baxter said Tuesday at the first of two public forums on the hospital’s future.

WATERVILLE, Ohio – On the same day that Mercy Health completed the purchase of St. Luke’s Hospital Health System President Bob Baxter answered questions about the hospital’s future at a public forum in Waterville on Tuesday.

St. Luke’s closed Monday, leaving behind a legacy of more than a century of ministry in northwest Ohio and the work of hundreds of people. The hospital’s legacy was felt as forum participants asked Baxter questions ranging from insurance and how it would affect campus facilities to how those who rely on the hospital will move forward.

“I had open heart surgery there. They fixed my broken leg there and a few other things along the way. So, I’ve been there many times,” Waterville resident John Tilton, one of about 40 people who attended the meeting, said.

As St. Luke’s assets and property move into new hands, Baxter addressed residents’ concerns about trusting the new owner.

“It’s a privilege we don’t take lightly,” Baxter said. “We want the community to know at the highest level of the organization that we are fully committed to helping make sure their needs are met. We are ready, we are ready and we hope we can earn their trust. “

Mercy Health and St. Luke’s worked together so patients could continue to receive care at Mercy facilities. Mercy too hired 407 former St. Luke’s employeesincluding at least 150 nurses, as of Tuesday.

Steven Baisley, a member of a family physician group in Waterville, was one of those hires.

Fortunately, we’re blessed,” Baisley said. “I’m with a group of family physicians in Waterville. All seven of us stay together. We live in the same building. Fortunately, Mercy accommodated that for us.”

Maumee Mayor Rich Carr previously told WTOL 11 that he has been assured that all St. Luke’s employees who want to work at Mercy will be able to find work.

At least 861 people were notified of the layoffs in a pair of notices that went out in March.

Mercy will take over the St. Luke’s property on June 2 and will retain the physical therapy department, lab services and cardiac rehabilitation program. Imaging, laboratory and rehabilitation services will be offered at Mercy’s St. Luke’s campus, as well as in Waterville and Perrysburg. The company is working to restore as many outpatient services as possible.

However, Mercy has made it clear that it has no plans to reopen St. Luke’s Hospital, saying it is not financially viable.

While some community members are glad they don’t have to look for new providers, the closure isn’t what they wanted.

“I think Waterville and the western areas west of Waterville are going to miss it a lot,” Tilton said.

Mercy Health, featuring Baxter, will hold its second of two public forums at the Elks Lodge in Maumee on May 16 from 6 to 7 p.m.

St. Luke’s patients who need assistance can call Mercy Health at 888-987-6372.


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