A group of clergy has filed a complaint with the federal government saying the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital violates the civil rights of black residents served by the hospital.
The complaint was filed today with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, a little less than four months after Premier Health, which operates Good Samaritan, announced it would be closing the northwest Dayton hospital.
The complaint that was filed states the closing of the 2222 Philadelphia Drive hospital will “have a discriminatory and separate adverse impact on African Americans and women” in violation of the Civil Rights Act and under the Affordable Care Act.
“We ask that Premier Health take us very, very seriously, because even though it seems monumental, we will not stop. Even though it seems impossible we will not quit,” said the Rev. Rockney Carter, president of the newly formed Clergy Community Coalition, which filed the complaint.
Premier Health said in a statement that the health system is “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 decision to close the hospital, one of the last anchor institutions on the city’s west side, has received push back from residents and city leaders concerned about the loss of not only access to medical services like the emergency department but also the loss of the 1,600 main campus jobs that will be transferred to other facilities within the health system.
Rockney and the other west side clergy that filed the lawsuit have previously criticized the decision, saying it will disproportionately affect black residents’ access to jobs and health services, who already have higher unemployment rates and worse average health outcomes on key measures like infant mortality.
The health network leadership have said the high number of empty beds and the high cost of keeping up an inefficient and out-of-date facility were factors that played a role in the decision to close the hospital, which is in an area with a declining population that’s been shifting to the suburbs. Premier has also previously said that patients and employees from the neighborhoods around Good Samaritan area are already coming to its other hospital in the city. Miami Valley Hospital, which shows there will still be access to hospital jobs and services.
Rockney announced the complaint filing from the downtown Dayton office of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, which is the legal team representing the clergy.
Rockney said the group is not only speaking out of concern about medical services leaving the west side of Dayton but also the economic impact of the ongoing pattern of shrinking investment on the west side.
“If we don’t stand and speak up now we might as well pack it in, because the intentional disinvestment is going to detrimentally impact us across businesses, across medical services,” said Rockney, also pastor at Zion Baptist Church.
The Office of Civil Rights will determine if it has the legal authority to investigate the complaint and if it decides that it can, then investigators will gather more information and eventually issue a decision on whether civil rights have been violated.
If civil rights have been violated, the hospital would have to take corrective action or risk enforcement proceedings that could mean a loss of federal funding.
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