A big-dollar out-of-court agreement has been reached to end the long-running court battle between a Mason City hospital and the city of Eldora. The Eldora Regional Medical Center was forced to close in 2000 after Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa stopped managing the facility. Mercy spokeswoman Cathy Swager says the Eldora hospital was down to an average of one-and-a-half patients a day. The city then brought a lawsuit that has been going on for about three years.Swager says the 18-bed hospital faced other problems besides low usage, including a significant decline in Medicare reimbursements. Swager says Mercy and the city of Eldora decided the best way to end the three-year lawsuit was to settle out-of-court. Swager says the settlement requires Mercy to pay the City of Eldora two-and-a-half million dollars before the end of the year. Swager says the deal does -not- constitute an admission of liability and the city has voluntarily agreed to dismiss the lawsuit. Mercy officials hope with the money to be paid, the city of Eldora will be able to enhance its healthcare delivery system. The Eldora hospital stopped delivering babies in 1991 and a women’s substance abuse treatment center was also closed in the early ’90s because of a declining usage and increasing expenses.