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Good Samaritan Demolitions Underway As Civil Rights Complaint Moves Forward

Shortly after noon on July 19, 2018, workers stretched construction barrels and webbing across the entrance to Good Samaritan Hospital's emergency center entrance.
Jerry Kenney

Demolitions are underway at the Good Samaritan Hospital campus, despite an ongoing federal civil rights complaint filed last spring with the United States Department of Health and Human Services over the medical facility's closure. 

An attorney for the Clergy Community Coalition, the group that filed the complaint, says an update on its status is expected soon from a federal investigator.

Premier Health outlined details of Good Sam's demolition Thursday.

The health group has contracted with Cincinnati-based O’Rourke Wrecking Company for the deconstruction work, which officials say will roll out in phases.

Some abatement work is already underway, with heavier deconstruction activity beginning in April and continuing into next year. Officials say crews will dismantle the Good Sam buildings, beginning with lower-rise structures at the perimeter of the campus, and working inward toward the South Tower. 

Premier says no explosives will be used, and no buildings will be imploded as part of the $10 million demolition project.

"What bothers me is that Premier Health is abandoning their responsibility and their presence on the west side of Dayton as it relates to acute health-care services for those who are most needy," says Rev. Rockney Carter, president of the Clergy Community Coalition. 

Despite Good Sam's deconstruction, the group is not giving up demands that Premier reinvest in West Dayton, says Ellis Jacobs, senior attorney with the nonprofit law firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, who represents the coalition.

“We think parts of the hospital are perfectly well suited to be repurposed into a smaller health center or a smaller hospital, or if that's not the way Premier wants to meet their obligation to provide health care in the African-American community, we think they should build a health center that's suitable for meeting the needs of that community,” he says.

Jacobs points to what he called Premier’s pattern of opening new medical centers in predominantly white areas of the Miami Valley, which the Clergy Community Coalition’s complaint alleges amounts to health discrimination.

Officials with Premier have strongly and repeatedly denied allegations of discrimination, saying the health group is responding to larger trends in health-care delivery and increased demand for services in other parts of the region.

Before it shut down last year, Good Sam was operating at half its capacity. 

Premier and O’Rourke officials told residents Thursday that most of the Good Sam demolition work would take place Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Officials promised deconstruction crews will use water to help contain dust during the demolition and debris removal, and clear streets and lots as needed with the help of a street-sweeper machine. Premier says crews will also comply with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration noise regulations during the demolition.

Two additional community meetings are scheduled as demolitions continue. The meetings are scheduled for May 21 and July 16, at 6 p.m., at Fairview United Methodist Church, 828 W. Fairview Ave. in Dayton.

People are also invited to call or email questions about the Good Sam project, at (937) 499-9174, or GSHSitePrep@PremierHealth.com

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.
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