Premier Reviewing West Dayton Civil Rights Complaint Against Good Samaritan Hospital Shutdown
Premier Health is responding to a federal civil rights complaint filed with the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights in relation to the impending closure of Good Samaritan Hospital.
Premier Health recently announced it will close the West Dayton hospital later this year.
Premier officials say they’re still reviewing the administrative complaint. In a statement to WYSO, Premier said:
“We are committed to providing care for everyone in our community, just as we have done for more than 125 years. We are in the process of reviewing the complaint and, therefore, cannot make any specific comments on it,” the statement reads.
Attorneys with the firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equality filed the complaint on behalf of a newly formed group of west side religious leaders, churches and West Dayton advocates, called the Clergy Community Coalition.
The group charges the hospital’s closure will disproportionately and adversely affect African Americans and women.
The complaint, filed May 3, calls for a federal investigation into whether Good Samaritan's closure would violate the federal Civil Rights Act, and sections of the Affordable Care Act health-care law.
More than 85 percent of residents in the two U.S. Census tracts closest to Good Samaritan Hospital are African American, according to an analysis of 2016 American Community Survey census data.
Premier’s decision to shutter Good Samaritan has sparked months of strong criticism from a number of West Dayton residents. The more than 80-year-old hospital is one of only a handful of medical centers that serve northwest Dayton.
The Columbus-based Kirwan Institute found nearly 39,000 Dayton residents could lose emergency room access, and thousands of westside women would lose access to critical maternity and newborn services.
As detailed in the complaint, Good Samaritan is the only hospital that provides labor and delivery care on Dayton's west side.
Premier Health also operates four other Dayton-area hospitals, including Miami Valley Hospital. Premier Health President and CEO Mary Boosalis recently told WYSO the decision to close the hospital was a tough, but necessary strategic and financial decision.
“We made the very difficult emotional decision that we could not, on a long term basis, sustain two high-acuity hospitals that are only five miles apart,” she said.
Premier Health officials are already working with community development groups, including CityWide Development Corporation and Planning NEXT, to redevelop the longtime Good Sam site.
The group Planning NEXT is also involved in redeveloping the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.
Federal officials are reviewing the ABLE complaint. Jacobs says he expects a decision could come soon on whether the HHS Civil Rights office will open an investigation, or take other action.
If investigators determine Premier's shutdown of Good Samaritan would violate civil-rights laws, the federal government could discontinue millions of dollars in federal health funds to the health network until it comes into compliance.