Mercy Hospital Receives $7.5 Million Donation For Comprehensive Digestive Health Center In Oklahoma City

Mercy Hospital is on its way to becoming a one-stop shop for people who suffer from digestive health issues. Mercy's brand new Kathryn Ann Meinders Digestive Health Institute will be the first of its kind in the state and in the Midwest.

Sunday, September 17th 2023, 11:11 pm



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Mercy Hospital is on its way to becoming a one-stop shop for people who suffer from digestive health issues. Mercy's brand new Kathryn Ann Meinders Digestive Health Institute will be the first of its kind in the state and in the Midwest, with the goal of increasing access to care for Oklahomans and the surrounding states.

"The Midwest is virtually a desert for specialized, comprehensive digestive health services," said Lori Cummins, VP of Mercy Health Foundation Communities. "Our mission at mercy is to fill the gaps."

The Digestive Health Institute is one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to a $7.5 million donation from LaDonna and Herman Meinders.

"The gift from the Meinders family allowed us to fast track this project," Cummins said.

A center like this has been a career long dream for gastroenterologist Dr. Hussein Bitar.

"There's so much development and so much research that having a general gastroenterologist, as well intended as they may be, they may not be able to treat the more complex patients," said Dr. Bitar.

Treating GI diseases can require bloodwork, infusions, nutrition support, mental health counseling, and more.

"Our goal is to create a medical home for our patients," said Dr. Bitar.

The new GI center will bring all of the moving parts together.

"We'd be able to attend to all of those needs under one roof in one center as opposed to seeing a bunch of different providers and that's really the goal," he said.

Additionally, $2.5 million of Meinders' donation will honor one of Dr. Bitar's colleagues who died suddenly, esteemed colorectal surgeon Dr. Hani Baradi.

"He wanted to do something special to ensure that his legacy lived on at the digestive health institute because he was so critical in getting that project started," said Cummins.

The hospital hopes to break ground on the newest addition to their main campus by the end of this year.

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