Visible demolition of the Good Samaritan Hospital will begin in several weeks and continue over the next year.
For the past two months, crews from O’Rourke Demolition of Cincinnati have done interior demolition work, including asbestos abatement and recovery of assets within the former hospital, officials with the former hospital’s parent company Premier Health revealed Thursday night at a community meeting.
Tearing down the hospital’s exterior will begin in the next month, the officials said. The demolition will cost approximately $10 million, according to John McKinney with Premier Health. The hospital parking garage will not be torn down.
The Rev. Rockney Carter of the Clergy Community Coalition, which is fighting the hospital’s closure with a federal complaint, said the coalition believes the true cost of demolition is closer to $16 million, citing information from the group’s mediation sessions with Premier.
Tearing down the hospital will be done in phases, said Jeff Sizemore, who represented O’Rourke during the meeting at Fairview United Methodist Church. The company plans to use excavators, cranes and other equipment to raze the structure. Explosives will not be used, he said.
Workers will keep a 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule Monday through Friday during the project, with some Saturday work anticipated. Sizemore said he did not anticipate traffic problems or road closures.
Sizemore said his company also has handled the dismantling of the ex-hospital’s Catholic chapel, salvaging sacred items for transfer to other Catholic organizations, while preparing other fixtures, such as doors, chandeliers and stained glass, for storage at a Premier Health warehouse. No plans have been identified for those non-sacred fixtures.
The decision to tear down the hospital has sparked outrage from some residents over the loss of not only health care services but also a major part of the area’s identity and history. Good Samaritan had been built in an empty field in 1932 and was the original reason the surrounding neighborhoods were built.
The news about Good Sam came as locally-led efforts were gaining momentum to build up the Salem Avenue corridor. This includes the Omega Senior Lofts, now under construction at the former United Theological Seminary campus, the planned co-op grocery store Gem City Market, and a marketing effort by Salem Avenue Peace Corridor to show the business value of investing along the corridor.
The meeting, as with others about the hospital’s controversial shuttering, occasionally became heated. The next day there were also protesters in front of Good Sam.
Premier has not wavered in its decision to tear down the campus amid calls to consider other options, such as preserving at least part of the campus or exploring types of reuse. Premier has said it explored its options and there was no easy or cost effective way to downsize the campus or reuse the hospital.
Though Premier Health officials insisted they were being transparent, several in the audience leveled sharp critiques at the health system’s representatives.
“You haven’t been transparent from the very beginning,” said Bishop Richard Cox. “God is going to hold you accountable because of it.”
Throughout the meeting, Premier Health officials reiterated their care for the community and the neighborhood, noting the hospital system remains committed to redeveloping the site. Premier has pledged $10 million toward the redevelopment of the site.
But even that assertion drew skepticism from the crowd. At the meeting’s end, one resident asked the Premier Health officials on stage if any of them lived in the city of Dayton. None raised their hands.
“Premier can’t leave just a small urgent care facility on Philadelphia and Salem? Give me a break,” said Elizabeth Makiewicz, a resident at the meeting. “How the hell can they talk about caring for this neighborhood? It’s just wrong.”
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