Ohio Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Dennis Kucinich vowed to join the fight against the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, rallying with protesters outside Premier Health headquarters Tuesday in downtown Dayton.
It marked the second straight day of protests, but this one headlined with the former presidential candidate and Ohio congressman in the ranks of those rallying against the upcoming closure later this year.
Kucinich said he has consulted with attorneys in both Ohio and Washington, D.C, to study if there might be ways to prevent the shuttering of Good Sam in West Dayton.
“We should not have to fight this out in the streets,” he told protesters. “We should not have to fight this in the courts.”
The crowd of around 30 protesters bundled up in coats on a bitterly cold winter day, chanted and held signs outside of Premier headquarters while speakers exhorted through bullhorns against the hospital’s scheduled demise.
Premier Health has said Miami Valley Hospital and Good Samaritan stand about five miles from each other and it was not economically sustainable to keep both open as a trend of declining overnight hospital stays continues. The company has the goal to offer 1,600 employees at the hospital a position at another Premier affiliate, a spokesman said.
The Rev. Chad White, pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church and an organizer of the protest, said the group will continue to resist the hospital’s closure.
“Health care is not a privilege for the rich,” he said. “It’s a human right and this is primarily a human rights issue and we have a moral responsibility not only for me as a clergy member but for me as a citizen of the world to be a voice for those who are voiceless and those who are powerless.”
White said five miles makes a different to those who don’t have a vehicle. “To those who have to catch the bus or walk, five miles can mean life or death,” White said.
Bishop Richard Cox, an associate pastor at Central Baptist Church, wore a sign that said: “People’s Need” over “Corporate Greed.”
“You cannot come into the African-American community and take out of the community something that is very vital to this community without asking the community,” he said.
He also noted Premier Health was investing elsewhere while it plans to close Good Samaritan.
“You’re building all around in the suburbs and other cities, but in the inner city here the poor and the neglected and the needy and the despised and rejected are left without anything,” he said.
Dayton resident Mary Sue Gmeiner, 67, who participated in the protest at the corner of East Second Street and North Main, said the loss of the hospital would be devastating.
“I think it’s important to remember that Dayton is an entire city, not just pieces and parts and so when one part of the city is hurting, we’re all hurting,” she said. “Disinvestment on the West Side has been rampant for decades and it’s only getting worse and the loss of Good Samaritan Hospital in that part of town is devastating to that part of the community therefore it’s devastating to Dayton as a whole.”
In a statement issued Monday, Premier said: “We respect the right of citizens to participate in a peaceful protest. As we conveyed in our announcement, we look forward to working with community members to identify the possibility for redevelopment of the Good Samaritan Hospital Campus on Philadelphia Drive.”