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August 21, 2015

McDonald’s and the Mercy Medical Center

by Anne Paddock

From the start, we’ve been committed to doing the right thing. And we’ve got the policies, programs and practices in place that allow us to use our size and scope to help make a difference. Because what’s good for us, is good for us all.                                                                                   ~McDonald’s

Mercy. Excellence every day in every way.                                                                       ~Mercy Medical Center

Have you ever wondered why a McDonald’s would ever be located within a medical center or hospital? I have and can only guess that the answer must be related to money, job security, or incompetence. Why else would a facility dedicated to health and saving lives ever allow a fast food chain known for the Big Mac (540 calories, 28 grams of fat, 970 grams of sodium), French Fries* (510 calories, 24 grams of fat, 290 grams of sodium), and Coca Cola* (280 calories, 76 grams of sugar) – which coincidently is also known as the “Extra Value Meal” – on their premises?

Extra_Value_Meal_McDonaldsMercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa is an 802-bed acute care non-profit hospital and one of the largest employers in the state with more than 7,100 employees that include a medical staff of more than 800 physicians. A massive medical center that spans roughly four square blocks in downtown Des Moines, Mercy Medical Center provides a high level of medical services that include 10 key areas of excellence (i.e. Iowa Heart Center, Children’s Hospital, Vascular Surgery, Cancer Center, and more) and 28 specialty centers and treatment services (i.e. diabetes, neurosurgery, transplant, weight loss and nutrition, arthritis, intensive care services, and more).

Mercy_Medical_Center_MapThis is clearly a place dedicated to keeping people alive, which gets us back to why a fast food chain is one of 4 dining options (Atrium Deli, Starbuck’s, and the Marketplace & Grill being the other options) on the Mercy Medical Center campus. They must know about the correlation between food and dietary illness.Mercy_Hospital_Elevator_Sign

But, walk into the elevators, and the sign above is what riders will see. Since when does a fast food chain get equal billing with oncology or pediatrics or ICU?Mercy-Hospital

Ironically, McDonald’s is located between the pharmacy and employee health, and across the hall from public safety.


The answer could lie with the amount of rent McDonald’s pays to the hospital (which is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives – an Iowa Corp which is part of the Catholic Health Initiatives – a national non-profit health organization based out of Englewood, Colorado) which, if true, could mean dollars are more important than health (I’ve never heard anyone put forth an argument on the health benefits of eating at McDonald’s). Any doubt? Read the nutritional information of McDonald’s products by clicking here and consider watching the movie “Supersize Me” (click here to see the trailer).

Or, maybe the Catholic Health Initiatives wants what every other business wants: repeat customers. If true, I can’t decide if Mercy Medical Center should be commended for their business acumen or scorned for their shameless behavior because let’s face it:  we all know that fast food is not healthy and that our health is greatly influenced by what we put into our bodies. So, how can a medical center lease prime hospital space to a fast food chain whose food is not good for anyone much less those with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer?

The other option is that somehow McDonald’s was able to persuade the decision makers at Catholic Health Initiatives of the sincerity of their intentions (see the quote at the top of the page). If so, the leasing agents should be replaced with decision makers willing to lease the space to food chains that offer healthier alternatives (Sweetgreen, Fresh, Chipotle, Veggie Grill, True Food Kitchen, Chop’t, Native Foods Cafe, or Pret a Manger).

To tell Mercy Medical Center or the Catholic Health Initiatives that McDonald’s should not be located in hospitals or medical centers, click on one of the following links and make your voice heard:

Sign the petition telling Mercy Medical Center that McDonald’s doesn’t belong on the premises:

Mercy Medical Center:

Catholic Health Initiatives:

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