Premier Health is aiming to start demolition work at Good Samaritan Hospital in the first half of 2019.
It will be a multi-phase project to tear down the Dayton hospital buildings at the intersection of Philadelphia Drive and Salem Avenue, which were once home to 1,600-employees before it closed in July 2018.
No final timeline is available yet. The health network will be preparing the buildings for demolition through the second quarter with demolition work starting around June or July.
Amid some community opposition demanding other options be considered besides demolition, Dayton-based hospital system is working on a plan to turn the campus into a grassy site that can be redeveloped.
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“We believe we looked at every alternative and that is the best thing to do,” Premier CEO Mary Boosalis said in an interview with News Center 7 and Dayton Daily News.
The hospital was a longstanding community anchor that spurred the initial development of the neighborhoods around it and later provided health care and jobs even as other businesses left west and northwest Dayton. Most of the jobs and services were moved to Premier’s other locations like Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton or Miami Valley Hospital North in Englewood.
Boosalis said Premier will share a demolition timeline after one is set.
“You will not see suddenly all the buildings gone overnight,” Boosalis said.
MORE: Dayton mayor: Don’t demolish Good Sam during investigation
As part of closing the hospital, Premier recently finished taking inventory of the hospital equipment and donating items that couldn’t be reused, including donating some equipment overseas.
Premier will also share information about the future of important religious artifacts at the hospital campus once a final decision is made about where they will be moved. One of those artifacts is the Good Samaritan statue, though there are other items on campus with historic or religious significance that need a new home.
“We’re not trying to be coy or not share information, but we want to be certain before we publicize it,” Boosalis said.
The final recommendation for the redevelopment of the 13-acre Good Samaritan site will be presented at a meeting 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Fairview PreK-6th School, according to CityWide Development, a private development corporation working on the redevelopment plan with Premier and Columbus-based Planning Next.
Premier officials have maintained that it would be too expensive for it to make sense to renovate and reuse the hospital buildings. Officials have said the building is outdated and the hospital also was built with some old design features like seven foot gaps in between floors, which were intended to make the building modular but also leave it inefficient.
MORE: Employees remember Good Sam as a place that felt ‘like home.’ These are their stories.
And while there are separate buildings, including some newer facilities, the campus has a central power plant and utilities weaving through the campus, so Premier officials say it would be difficult to separate and leave some standing.
“We truly believe it’s in the community’s best interest and we can serve the community best, instead of leaving a large vacant building as you see in many parts of the country that the responsible thing to do is to take it down and have the site shovel ready,” Boosalis said.
In examples of other hospitals in Ohio that recently closed, different approaches were taken toward the empty building.
In Massillon, city officials are trying to work out a deal for a yet-to-be named entity to take over the former Affinity Medical Center, which closed earlier this year. In Youngstown, Northside Hospital, which dates back to 1929 and had been through several ownership changes, closed in September and local officials voiced concern about what would happen to the large vacant hospital complex. It’s not clear what will happen to the building.
A group of west Dayton clergy have filed a civil rights complaint about Good Samaritan closing and have maintained that the buildings should remain, particularly while the complaint is pending. The federal government is investigating the complaint, which says the rights of women and black residents served by Good Samaritan were violated when the hospital — and key services like the ER and maternity unit — closed even as Premier continues to build in whiter and wealthier communities.
While the clergy want the hospital to remain open, they state in a list of demands that if the hospital closes, Premier should continue to operate certain critical health services and give more than the $10 million Premier has so far pledged toward the site’s redevelopment.
Ellis Jacobs with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, the legal team representing the clergy, said the investigators with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are still looking into the complaint.
“We are told they are working on it and we are expecting results,” Jacobs said.