Clergy group says Dayton leaders didn’t push hard enough on Good Sam project

Group continues to seek full hospital at site; Premier Health has repeatedly said they won’t build one

Nearly a dozen people criticized Dayton leaders on Wednesday night at the weekly city commission meeting for supporting a redevelopment project at the former Good Samaritan Hospital site.

Members of the Clergy Community Coalition accused the mayor and most commissioners of ignoring the wishes of the community.

They said the city should have demanded that a new hospital or more robust medical services be placed at the northwest Dayton property.

“This is a travesty and an insult,” said Merritt Worthen, a pastor and president of the Clergy Community Coalition.

But a couple Dayton city leaders and officials said the new “wellness campus” project at the site is a meaningful investment that will benefit residents and the surrounding area.

They also said they worried the alternative was for the property to sit empty, possibly for the foreseeable future.

“We do listen: These are challenging votes we have to make sometimes,” said Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw. “On this particular location, it’s kind of now the difference between some kind of development on that site or no development at all.”

Last week, the Dayton City Commission approved giving $400,000 of its federal rescue funds to help construct a new 50,000-square-foot facility on part of the former hospital property at 2222 Philadelphia Drive.

Four members of the commission voted to approve the funding.

Commissioner Shenise Turner-Sloss abstained, saying community members have made it clear they want a hospital at the property.

The $17.5 million wellness campus project will create a new building that will have a full-service branch of the YMCA of Greater Dayton, as well as a Premier Health urgent care center, and other tenants will include Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley, County Corp, CareSource and Wright State University.

But members of the Clergy Community Coalition who spoke Wednesday said the proposed facility is not needed in that location.

They said city leaders should have fought harder to make Premier build a new hospital at the site.

Creating “another urgent care in our community is like putting a band-aid on a cancer patient or a giving a cotton swab to a disabled person,” said Bishop Richard Cox, vice president of the Clergy Community Coalition.

Premier Health shut down Good Sam hospital in 2018, and it was demolished soon after that, leaving only vacant land and a parking garage.

A few speakers said the new facility only takes up five acres, which means there is still room on the 13-acre site to put a hospital or medical center with an emergency room and other vital services.

“If you use your power effectively, you have the influence to help make this right,” said Pastor Worthen.

Premier Health repeatedly has said it will not build a new hospital at that location.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the city’s $400,000 contribution supports a project that brings critical new services to northwest Dayton.

She said this includes medical services, health and fitness programming and other assistance.

Turner-Sloss on Wednesday thanked speakers for advocating for northwest Dayton residents and their desire for a nearby health care facility.

Commissioner Darryl Fairchild said the city should listen to its citizens who have raised legitimate concerns about access to health care and the well-being of northwest Dayton residents.

“While we didn’t have a lot of leverage in this one, I’m not sure we went as far we could in pushing for the needs of health care in West Dayton,” he said.

He said Premier Health hasn’t done a community needs assessment for that part of the city, but it should to show what services are most needed.

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