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Clergy group says former Good Sam hospital site still needs a full-service medical center

CCC members hold signs in front of City Hall
Chris Welter
CCC members hold signs in front of City Hall

A local clergy group expressed its displeasure about how the former site of Good Samaritan Hospital in northwest Dayton is being developed at a city commission meeting this week.

Premier Health knocked down Good Samaritan Hospital in 2018. The medical network has said it closed the hospital because of changing health care demand, saying it didn’t need as many beds because demand has shifted from inpatient to outpatient services.

At the Dayton City Commission meeting on Wednesday night, members of the Clergy Community Coalition told city leaders they should do more to demand that future development on the former Good Sam site include a full-service, 24-hour medical center.

The Clergy Community Coalition said health systems across the country have been closing hospitals in poor neighborhoods of color and opening new ones in more affluent, white suburbs.

The plan at the moment is to build a multimillion dollar development at the site that would be called the Northwest Health and Wellness Center. It would have a YMCA and space for Wright State to hold classes. Goodwill, Caresource and other nonprofits will have a presence there.

The Northwest Health and Wellness Center is endorsed by Premier Health. As part of the center, Premier will have an urgent care, doctor offices, physical therapy, lab services and medical imaging on the site. It has repeatedly said it doesn't plan to build another hospital at the site.

Premier said in a statement to WYSO: “Plans are moving forward to redevelop the former Good Samaritan Hospital campus in partnership with others. Premier Health will do its part to make the collective vision for the Northwest Health and Wellness Center a reality on this site. And we will continue to collaborate with organizations in northwest Dayton and throughout the region to find new ways to fulfill our mission in all communities that we serve.”

Last week, four of the five city commissioners approved $400,000 in American Rescue Plan money to get the wellness center project going.

That perceived support for the center project in lieu of a hospital is what frustrates Rev. M. Merritt Worthen, the CCC's president.

"We are not opposed to some of the incredible organizations that they're bringing in. What we're opposed to is giving that in place of a medical center. There's nothing that stops them from doing both,” Worthen said. “If the city would use their power, if our mayor, if our city commission would insist that they're not going to invest in this unless it's going to be a medical center, then Premier would actually pay attention and maybe heed the cries of the citizens."'

Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw grew up in northwest Dayton near the former site of Good Sam. He voted in favor of giving $400,000 to the center project.

"On this particular location, it’s kind of now the difference between some kind of development on that site or no development at all–there's certainly a threat for that.” Shaw said. “So we make tough decisions based on the information that we have.”

And even though it won't be a hospital, City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the center will bring new medical services and health programming into northwest Dayton.

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

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.
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