DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Weeks after Good Samaritan Hospital closed its doors, residents in the West Dayton community are continuing to battle against what they call injustice.
Sunday evening, dozens of people gathered inside Wayman Chapel AME Church to talk about what’s next.
“People will die,” Reverend Dr. Rockney Carter said to the crowd.
In January, Premier Health announced it would close Good Sam. The health provider said closing the hospital was necessary to best serve the Dayton area. However, since the announcement came, protesters have been making their voices heard, saying closing Good Sam discriminates against African-American families. In May, the Clergy Community Coalition filed a complaint alleging discrimination, and the Department of Health and Human Services has since opened an investigation into the hospital's closing. Dr. Carter is the organization’s president and said by closing Good Sam, Premier is denying services to the underprivileged and low income residents, while allegedly expanding high-quality services in more privileged communities.
Dr. Carter spent part of Sunday’s meeting issuing a rebuttal against a recent full-page advertisement taken out in the Dayton Daily News, in which Premier outlined the work its done in West Dayton and across the Miami Valley.
“They also state that every community deserve to have quality health care that’s in their own community,” Dr. Carter said. “That seems to apply to every community except for the west side.”
Now that the hospital is closed, the group wants it repurposed for the community. Premier Health previously issued a statement and said it's tearing down everything at Good Sam except the parking garage. The network also said it's closing the hospital because it cannot justify having two large acute care hospitals just five miles apart, with Miami Valley Hospital just down the road.
Premier pledged $10 million to the future revitalization of the neighborhood surrounding the hospital. Dr. Carter told Fox 45 that the network’s response so far has been inadequate.
“The most offensive part for me, is them stating the relationships they have with a few African-American community groups and institutions on that side town,” he added. “The NAACP and Urban League, like that ought to be enough.”
Another issue highlighted at the meeting was the elimination of around 400 jobs after the hospital’s closing. Premier initially said 1600 workers would have the opportunity to transfer positions, but it was revealed only 1200 had done so. As residents wondered what happened to those positions, Fox 45 reached out to a Premier spokesman who said this:
“All Good Samaritan Hospital employees interested in continuing their careers with Premier Health were offered positions elsewhere within the health system. Ultimately, about 1,200 employees at Good Samaritan Hospital’s main campus accepted positions with Premier Health. Voluntary retirements and voluntary decisions to pursue employment elsewhere account for the roughly 400 employees who did not transfer. As we have since the closure was announced, we respect the right of citizens to participate in a peaceful protest.”
The group plans to hold rallies weekly, until they feel the matter is settled. Community leaders are also working to speak at a Premier Health board meeting. A class-action lawsuit could be on the way, with Dr. Carter saying around 25 people have already signed on.