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West Dayton Clergy, Activists Organize Ahead Of Good Samaritan Hospital Closure

Members of the West Dayton Clergy Community Coalition, from left: Robert Jones, David K. Greer, Rev. Rockney Carter, Bishop Richard Cox and Richard Clay Dixon.
Jess Mador
Members of the West Dayton Clergy Community Coalition, from left: Robert Jones, David K. Greer, Rev. Rockney Carter, Bishop Richard Cox and Richard Clay Dixon.

A coalition of West Dayton religious leaders and activists says it's considering a lawsuit to block Premier Health from closing Good Samaritan Hospital. The decades-old hospital is slated to close its doors for good July 23. The emergency department will close at noon July 19.

Premier officials maintain the hospital’s operation is no longer financially sustainable. The health system is moving forward with plans to shutter and demolish the medical center.

Zion Baptist Church pastor Rockney Carter heads the Clergy Community Coalition, a group formed after Premier announced earlier this year it would shut down Good Sam. He says the hospital's closure will mean additional travel time for vulnerable patients who need emergency services.

“An ambulance drive that would have gotten you safe at Good Sam now will not happen. On the 24th of July you’ll try to roll the dice and see if you can make it to Grandview," he says. 

"It just might be two or three minutes, but two or three minutes can be the difference between life and death, and that’s going to be a reality for our people in the next week or so.”

Expansion is already underway at nearby Grandview Medical Center. Officials say the center will undergo a multimillion dollar expansion to increase patient capacity.  

Carter says he's in talks with nearby Dayton hospitals and universities as part of an effort to ensure West Dayton residents’ longterm medical needs are met. In the meantime, Carter says his group is continuing to push for Good Samaritan’s building to remain on the west side. 

Premier officials say they’re coordinating closely with doctors and other medical staff to transfer any remaining patients to other hospitals after Good Sam closes. They say they’re working to help address the needs of any residents who may need transportation to other Premier Health medical centers.

"Patient safety has been our guiding principle for setting a closing date for Good Samaritan Hospital’s main campus. Feedback from physicians and employees were considered as part of this decision-making," officials tell WYSO in a statement.

The same statement also reads, "We continue to transfer operations from Good Samaritan Hospital’s main campus to Premier Health’s other sites of service, primarily Miami Valley Hospital. As planned for and anticipated, our patient census is declining at Good Samaritan Hospital’s main campus. Considerable planning has gone into making arrangements for any patients who require a transfer to other hospitals on July 23, though we anticipate that few – if any – patients will require a transfer."

Also on July 23, Good Samaritan North Health Center will be renamed Miami Valley Hospital North. 

Premier's plans for Good Sam's main campus include razing all buildings except for the site's parking garage.  

"We remain committed to dedicating up to $10 million toward plans to redevelop Good Samaritan Hospital’s main campus and the surrounding neighborhoods," the health system's officials say. 

Premier declined to comment on a federal administrative complaint Carter's clergy coalition, along with the legal firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, filed with the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights in relation to the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital.

Carter says the complaint is under review and has not yet been assigned a case manager. 

The coalition is organizing a protest rally for Thursday, July 19 near the main medical center campus at 11:30 a.m.. 

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.