Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has asked Premier Health to delay any demolition of Good Samaritan Hospital to allow time to complete a federal investigation.
The federal government has opened an investigation into whether the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital will have a disparate impact on African American residents, according to the legal team of the clergy who filed the civil rights complaint.
“In light of the now opened federal investigation regarding the closing of Good Samaritan Hospital, I call on Premier to commit to not demolish or disable the buildings on the campus until this investigation, all legal proceedings and the community planning process are complete,” Whaley said Tuesday.
The Good Samaritan Hospital emergency room at 2222 Philadelphia Drive is set to close noon Thursday and the final close date is 12:01 a.m. July 23.
The group of clergy, which have organized as Clergy Community Coalition, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights in May arguing that the closure will “have a discriminatory and separate adverse impact on African Americans and women” in violation of the Civil Rights Act and under the Affordable Care Act.
The Dayton-area residents for whom Good Samaritan is the closest hospital are 75 percent African American, according to the complaint. The total population of the counties Premier Health serves is 12.5 percent African American. At a Monday press conference, Ellis Jacobs, an attorney for Advocates for Legal Equality, which represents the clergy, said closing the facility will create a “health care desert.”
Jacobs said HHS expedited the investigation after Premier Health went from saying it would close no later than Aug. 29 to having a final July 23 closing date.
The clergy are asking Premier to keep Good Samaritan open for the duration of the federal investigation. Premier has already closed down several of the major medical units at the hospital.
“Premier, will you be a good citizen and commit to not closing, demolishing or disabling Good Samaritan Hospital until this investigation and any other legal action is complete? They should be prepared to answer that question today,” Jacobs said.
Mayor Whaley agrees.
“If Premier makes this commitment it will show that it is acting in good faith in assessing all community needs, including health care,” she said.
“If Premier makes this commitment it will show that it is acting in good faith in assessing all community needs ,
Premier Health Spokesman Ben Sutherly said the Good Samaritan emergency department is still scheduled to close at noon Thursday, and the hospital is scheduled to close at 12:01 a.m. Monday. The network can’t comment on the complaint, he said.
Premier has previously said the hospital is operating at half capacity and many of the same services are available five miles away at Miami Valley Hospital.
The Clergy Community Coalition still aims to keep the hospital open. Rockney Carter, president of the organization, called the expedition of the investigation a “monumental victory.”
“It’s a wonderful day for the city of Dayton,” Carter said. “It’s a miraculous day for the city of Dayton.”
Expedited investigations are unusual, according to Jacobs, and it isn’t clear how long the investigation will take.
“I asked the investigator and he said, ‘this is so unusual, I can’t tell you how quickly we’ll be able to proceed,’” Jacobs said.
The closure of Good Samaritan hospital will affect West Dayton in several ways, Jacobs said. It will remove a maternity ward from the area with the highest infant mortality rate in Montgomery County, make it more difficult for people in the area with chronic illnesses to see doctors and lengthen rides to emergency rooms.