Mercy given $10 million for addition

Foundation's gift will help construct six-story building

November 28, 2001|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

In the largest single gift in the hospital's 126-year history, Mercy Medical Center will receive $10 million from the Weinberg Foundation to help build a 117,000-square- foot outpatient building to house its oncology services and nationally acclaimed women's health center.

Demolition is under way for the signature building - to be named The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Center - which will extend the hospital's downtown campus by an entire city block.

The project is part of a $110 million, five-year expansion plan announced earlier this month by hospital officials.

"Our mission has always been to serve people of all means, and the Weinberg Foundation believes in giving money to organizations that serve the poor," Thomas R. Mullen, president and chief executive of parent Mercy Health Services, said yesterday. "We're very excited about the gift, and it shows the Weinbergs' commitment to Baltimore.

"We're at a point where we're trying to generate interest in philanthropy for Mercy," Mullen added. "This really does that. We really believe we'll be able to raise substantial funds because of this gift."

The donation will go toward the $75 million needed to complete the first phase of construction. Mercy plans to sell $50 million in bonds this month and finance the rest through patient revenue.

Mercy's Weinberg Center, which will be completed by summer 2003, will include six levels for patient care and radiation oncology services in the basement.

The Center for Women's Health and Medicine also will be relocated to the new building to offer expanded gynecology, mammography and reconstructive surgery programs.

Mullen said the growth of the women's health center will allow poor patients more access to early cancer screening, especially mammography tests.

"We believe it is essential to partner with organizations like Mercy Medical Center that are committed to serving our community and improving the health of the people who live, work and visit Baltimore," Robert T. Kelly, vice president of the Weinberg Foundation, said in a prepared statement. "The women's center at Mercy is widely recognized as one of the best, and we are proud to be associated with a program of this caliber."

One of the largest charitable trusts in the country, the Weinberg Foundation was founded in 1959 and received $900 million upon the death of its founder, Harry Weinberg, who amassed his fortune by buying and holding real estate.

The first phase of the project also includes expansion of the hospital's emergency department, acquisition of nearby office buildings and parking facilities, and construction of an 800-space garage, all situated in the 200 blocks of St. Paul Place and Calvert Street.

The $35 million second phase, "subject to financial performance," would include additional renovation to the hospital, capital equipment and a fit-out of two floors of the new outpatient building, hospital officials said.

The expansion is expected to add 489 jobs at Mercy, which has 1,963 employees. It will create about 600 construction jobs over the next few years.

Mullen said the project is vital to the tremendous growth over the last decade in patient and customer demands.

"Mercy's legacy to this city is our heritage of caring," said Sister Helen Amos, executive chair for the Mercy Board of Trustees. "For more than a century, the Sisters of Mercy, our physicians and staff have served the patients and families who have come to our hospital. The gift from the Weinberg Foundation expands our outreach. Theirs is more than a monetary gift to Mercy - it is a gift to the thousands of women and cancer patients who will receive state-of-the-art care, compassion and healing in a beautifully appointed signature facility."

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