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Northwest Dayton Clergy Approve Of Former Good Sam Site Development But Say More Needs To Be Done

Rev. Rockney Carter speaks to reporters at a press conference.  The map next to him shows "New Facilities Or Significant Investments In Existing Facilities By Premier: 2013-2018."
Alejandro Figueroa
/
WYSO
Rev. Rockney Carter speaks to reporters at a press conference. The map next to him shows "New Facilities Or Significant Investments In Existing Facilities By Premier: 2013-2018."

On Friday, July 23, members of the Clergy Community Coalition held a press conference at the site of the former Good Samaritan Hospital. Speakers from the northwest Dayton community group said they approve of Premier Healthcare’s new plans to build an outpatient clinic on the site. But, they said, there’s still more to be done to meet the healthcare needs of their community.

Premier Health closed Good Samaritan Hospital in northwest Dayton in 2018. The Clergy Community Coalition says health systems across the country have been closing hospitals in poor neighborhoods of color and opening new ones in more affluent white suburbs. That's why the group filed a federal Title VI Civil Rights complaint against Premier in 2018. They claim the corporation's decision to close Good Samaritan was discriminatory and had an adverse effect on Black residents served by the hospital. Their attorney, Ellis Jacobs of Advocates for Basic Legal Equity, said at the press conference that the United States Department of Health and Human Services is still investigating the complaint.

Ethel Smith was at the press conference with her walker. She was the first Black person to graduate from the School of Nursing at Good Samaritan in 1954. Now she lives a few blocks away from where it once stood. Smith said was glad to hear about the new development on the site.

“I think it's wonderful, but it's not enough. It's only a start. We need a hospital.”

When Smith had COVID last year, she said she had to travel to the suburb of Kettering to receive treatment.

Rev. Dr. M. Merritt Worthen speaking at the press conference
Chris Welter
Rev. Dr. M. Merritt Worthen speaking at the press conference

Rev. Dr. M. Merritt Worthen is the Senior Pastor at College Hill Community Church, which is just down the street from the old Good Samaritan site. She spoke at the press conference as well.

"If you were bleeding from your jugular vein and somebody gave you a Band-Aid and said 'good luck,' that's exactly what's happening here. They're offering us a 12,000 foot clinic," Worthen said. "What we need is emergency health care for the black, brown, disabled and elderly, for everyone in this neighborhood. This is absolute systemic and overt racism on behalf of Premier. This cannot continue where you take things out of the neighborhood and then act like whatever you give them back they're supposed to be thankful for. We absolutely need health care and deserve health care. And if they've got the millions and billions to invest in every other suburb of the city, then they've got it to put right back here. Stop robbing from the poor to give to the rich."

Speakers also called for neonatal care and mental health services at the site.

Premier has said they closed Good Samaritan because of changing health care demand, claiming they don’t need as many hospital beds because demand has shifted from inpatient to outpatient services.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.