In the year since Good Samaritan Hospital closed, demolition is well under way, a nearby competing hospital has seen a surge of new patients and its parent company Premier Health continues to take criticism over its decision to tear down the historic Dayton hospital.
What remains to be seen is what will happen next for the 13-acre hospital site at Philadelphia Drive and Salem Avenue that Premier has pledged to help redevelop, and what will happen with the civil rights case filed over the hospital closure.
A Dayton Daily News examination also found that the region could lose part of a residency program that has been a key tool in recruiting doctors to the Miami Valley.
Premier leaders say the high number of empty beds at Good Samaritan and the high cost of the out-of-date facility were factors that played a role in the decision to close the hospital, which is in an area with a declining population that’s been shifting to the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.
Federal statistics show the number of patients spending the night at hospitals has been declining nationally and locally for years, as patients recover faster and do more of their recovery from home.
A year later, Barbara Johnson, chief human resource officer for Premier Health, said it was the responsible thing to reduce those extra beds and redundancy.
“We knew the community was overbedded. The cost of redundancy was just not sustainable. All this redundancy has to be paid for and that overhead gets translated into what a patient pays for care in the community,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who will soon become Premier’s executive vice president, said there were already patients from the neighborhoods near Good Samaritan who were going to their other hospitals, depending on their medical needs, and that patients have maintained access to health care.
“The fears about access to health care have not materialized,” Johnson said.
This last year has meant integrating Good Samaritan’s employees, patients and services into other parts of the system, primarily Miami Valley Hospital, which is just south of downtown.
All 1,600 employees at the Good Samaritan main campus were offered a job within the Premier Health system and that meant a large human resources effort, managing both the logistics but also morale. About 90 percent of employees are still with the system today, Johnson said.
“We’ve had to put two phenomenal employee cultures together and that’s not always easy but the other hospitals were just phenomenal in opening their doors and welcoming the Good Samaritan employees in,” Johnson said.
Health systems adapt
When Good Samaritan closed, the nearest hospital was Grandview Medical Center, which is operated by competitor Kettering Health Network. The hospital on Grand Avenue saw more patients, hired more doctors — including many Good Samaritan doctors — and the hospital expanded its emergency department in anticipation of extra patients said Becky Lewis, Grandview Medical Center president. Lewis said she anticipates they will see about 20,000 more patients this year, which is a surge from last year’s 36,000 patients.
“The past year, I think Grandview has seen more change than we’ve seen since Grandview joined the Kettering Health Network,” Lewis said.
Lewis said it has been rewarding to welcome on the new doctors, nurses and other staff that came over.
“Good Samaritan and Grandview have very similar cultures,” Lewis said.
Five Rivers Health Centers, a nonprofit network of health centers, still operates a family health center on the Good Samaritan campus. The health center has primary care services, different than services that closed with the hospital, but expand some programming in the wake of the closure.
The health center is working with neighborhood groups on a health fair and started the THRIVE health coaching program working with Wright State medical students.
Five Rivers officials said the center had a 4 percent increase in new patients in the past, a 12 percent increase in visits compared to this time last year, and a 62 percent increase in pregnant patients, mostly in their peer-to-peer Centering Pregnancy groups.
Impact on residents
Premier has pledged $10 million toward the redevelopment of the 13-acre site. There were several community meetings and a draft outline of redevelopment goals was presented earlier this year.
Now the draft is being reviewed by the Phoenix Next board, which is an outgrowth of a previous joint effort by Good Samaritan, city of Dayton and CityWide Development.
Johnson said the board will come back with a recommendation on how to move forward and spend the $10 million.
At a July 16 meeting to update on the demolition process, about 15 people were in attendance and several Premier officials took questions, including former Good Samaritan president Eloise Broner, who is now Premier chief of shared services.
Broner said she is often asked about the hospital demolition and how long the construction noise will go on.
“My answer is the noise will not die down until something comes out of the ground,” Broner said. “Premier and the others in this community will have to live up to the promise of redevelopment.”
While the meeting was intended to answer demolition questions, the topic often steered toward attendees concerns and frustrations, from the salaries of Premier executives to what the impact of the loss will be on the neighborhoods.
Kegan Sickels of the Dayton View Triangle Federation, said his neighborhood wants to know whether the two community police officers that received funding from the Phoenix Project will continue to be funded into the future.
“Having those two dedicated officers is really something that we’ve grown accustomed to,” Sickels said.
Berkley Moore, a Fairview resident, said he sees the hospital spreading out all over and locations in strip malls and the hospital could instead build up at Good Samaritan.
“Don’t tear it down. Build something up,” he said.
Good Samaritan Hospital was also home to a resident physician program, where doctors start their careers and build skills after completing medical school.
There were 66 residents at Good Samaritan, with 62 of those positions financed with the help of the federal government. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services only pays for a certain cap of residency positions at each hospital.
All those residents transferred to Miami Valley Hospital and those residencies were not lost when the hospital closed. However, going forward, Premier Health has to now get permission from Medicare to have those residency slots transferred over to Miami Valley Hospital. Premier just applied for those slots, but also any hospital in the nation can apply for those slots.
If Premier does not get Medicare funds, then the health system will have to make a decision on whether to pay for those residency slots. This could have a significant impact on the area, including that many doctors now in practice first came to the area through a residency program.
Sometimes when a teaching hospital closes, those resident physicians have to find another placement.
“But our residents didn’t have to scramble. We took good care of them. And we are requesting that CMS grant us all 62 residency slots that were originally assigned to Good Sam Hospital and have those assigned to Miami Valley Hospital,” Johnson said.
Civil rights suit
Some local residents and political leaders have criticized Premier over the closure of the hospital, which was a neighborhood anchor with jobs and health services.
A pending civil rights complaint said the closing of the 2222 Philadelphia Drive hospital harms a majority black service area through the loss of maternity services, the ER and other major medical services. Good Samaritan was the closest hospital for 38,600 people in the area — 75 percent African American — and the two census tracks most aligned with the hospital are 85 percent African American.
The Rev. Rockney Carter, who is leading a coalition of clergy that filed the civil rights complaint, has criticized Premier for finding the money to invest and build in whiter, wealthier communities, but yet closing Good Samaritan.
Carter said Premier has left behind a health care desert where Good Samaritan once stood, and that it is a tragedy that Premier did not heed the call to keep Good Samaritan, instead tearing down a hospital that could be used to serve the west side.
He said the coalition is working to record stories of people personally impacted by the hospital closure and their advocacy over the last year is bringing people together.
“I saw hope in people’s eyes, I saw hope in people’s faces, not that we would win and ultimately get a hospital, but that we were at least trying to fight and fight for people who need health care,” Carter said.
Ellis Jacobs, with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, who is one of the attorneys on the case, said Premier can still provide a remedy and “come back to this neighborhood they’ve abandoned and create a health care center that’s designed for the needs of the community.”
He said Premier could create a facility that has services such as imaging, specialists, laboratory, and urgent and emergency care.
“It’s disheartening that the hospital was closed. It’s disheartening that now the hospital is being demolished. But it’s not too late for Premier to do the right thing,” Jacobs said.
Federal inspectors with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights were in town in May interviewing residents about how they were impacted by the closure of the hospital.
The Office of Civil Rights will 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.
Good Samaritan timeline
1928: The community and Sisters of Charity lead $1 million fundraiser to build the new hospital.
1932: Good Samaritan is dedicated.
1995: Good Samaritan North Health Center opened, which was largest freestanding outpatient facility in U.S.
1995: Good Samaritan joined with Miami Valley Hospital to form Premier Health.
2003: Samaritan Pavillion opened at the main campus, with an ER, ICU and more surgical suites.
2009: Good Samaritan and Dayton Heart and Vascular Hospital (Dayton Heart Hospital) joined to form Dayton Heart & Vascular Hospital at Good Samaritan.
2015: A 96,000 addition was built at Good Samaritan North.
Jan. 17, 2018: Premier Health announces Good Samaritan will close.
May 3, 2018: Civil rights complaint filed over Good Samaritan closing.
July 23, 2018: Good Samaritan officially closes.
Jan. 8, 2019: Open house held to share final draft of Good Sam site vision.
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