Clergy consider suit over upcoming Good Sam closure

A group of clergy that filed a federal civil rights complaint earlier this year about the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital said they are considering a local lawsuit to stop the closing.

Good Samaritan will close 12:01 a.m. July 23, ending a 90-year legacy. Premier Health plans to tear down the hospital campus at the corner of Philadelphia and Salem avenues and turn it into a cleared site for a future developer.

The group of clergy has continued to condemn Premier Health’s ongoing construction and expansion in wealthier and whiter suburbs while at the same time closing a hospital in a disproportionately black service area.

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“The west side of Dayton has been abandoned and disinvested in while Premier Health has decided to influx huge amounts of money on other sides of town,” said Rev. Rockney Carter, with Zion Baptist Church, who spoke Friday about the planned lawsuit.

Premier leaders have called the decision to close Good Samaritan a difficult but necessary decision. The Dayton-based health network’s leaders said it could not sustainably continue to run two hospitals five miles apart when the city’s population is declining and medical advancements have let overnight hospital procedures become outpatient services.

Carter said Premier has spent “an outrageous sum” expanding Miami Valley Hospital South and “enormous amounts of money” in Englewood expanding Good Samaritan North — soon to be renamed Miami Valley Hospital North.

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With the civil rights complaint pending with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Carter said the details are still being worked out on what kind of suit could be filed.

“We are assembling plaintiffs for that as we continue to fight for legal redress for our people who are continuing to be maligned and left out,” Carter said.

Bishop Richard Cox said they plan to lead a protests over the final closing. He said they will be protesting 11:30 a.m. July 19 at the corner of Benson and Philadelphia before the hospital’s emergency room closes He said they will again be protesting July 23 over the total closure of Good Samaritan.

Premier Health said in a statement “we cannot comment on matters pertaining to the administrative complaint at this time. As we have since the closure was announced, we respect the right of citizens to participate in a peaceful protest.”

“When that hospital closes, our protests will not stop because we are demanding that health care services remain on the west side,” Cox said.

While the group’s goal has been to stop the northwest Dayton hospital from closing, if they are not able to succeed Carter said their next effort would be to fight the planned demolition of the hospital campus.

“We do not want those buildings to be demolished. They should not be demolished,” he said.

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Premier Health is working with Columbus firm Planning Next as well as committees and focus groups of residents on a plan for the future of the Good Samaritan site and surrounding area after the hospital is torn down.

Premier has also said the hospital set aside $10 million toward the site’s future redevelopment.

Carter said the clergy are not participating in the planning process, called “Phoenix Next,” which he called a sham compared to the investment in construction for other hospital expansions, urgent cares and emergency centers.

“If you can build those units in other parts of the city, if not the local area, you should be able to build something on the Good Sam site,” he said.

Coming Sunday

The Dayton Daily News takes a look at the 90-year history of Good Samaritan and what its closing means for health care in Dayton.

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