DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As worked continued to demolish the former Good Samaritan Hospital on Philadelphia Avenue, the Clergy Community Coalition was celebrating.
Coalition president Dr. Rockney Carter said an investigator from the Department of Health and Human Services had been assigned to their case after the group and its legal reps at ABLE – Advocates for Basic Legal Equality – filed a Title VI claim against Premier Health Systems for closing the hospital.
A Title VI complaint makes it illegal for any entity receiving federal funding to discriminate against people based on race, color, religion or homeland. The legislation was made part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Good Sam’s closure was bitter for West-side Daytonians. There isn’t a grocery store open on the west side, and the closing of Good Sam coincided with the opening of Premier Health buildings in several areas throughout the community
Ellis Jacobs of ABLE said between 2013 to 2018, Premier had invested in 17 major facilites – none in African-American areas of the Miami Valley.
“This is a great day for Dayton,” Carter said. “It’s a time to be excited. … We’ve assembled hundreds of testimonials already and it’s our hope these testimonies have merit and these people have the chance to exercise their Constitutional rights and be heard by these investigators when they come to town.
According to ABLE, investigators are expected to arrive the first week of May and stay several days to conduct interviews.
Carter said the investigation was a testament to the hard work of people in the community to fight to keep some kind of health care facility.
“When we started we really were trying to stop the closure,” Carter said. “We had a three-prong plan: If we couldn’t stop the closure we wanted to stop the demolition. If we couldn’t stop or delay the demolition, we wanted to insure there was some sort of health care there on that site.”
Carter said he doesn’t believe Premier has any intention of opening a health care facility at the Good Sam site. He also said Premier should follow the example of the Cleveland Clinic when it closed two facilities in the city.
“(Cleveland Clinic) closed two facilities recently and there was a community outcry,” Carter said. “But Cleveland Clinic had the compassion and business savy to know this is where some of their constituent were. They are in the health care business so they immediately built two state-of-the-art medical centers to replace the aging hospitals.”
Premier Health Systems sent the following statement Thursday on the investigation.
We are aware of the investigation and the process. Premier Health has provided information and we will cooperate with any additional investigation. We do not believe the allegations have meit, as Premier Health continues to be the largest provider of indigent services in our region and and one of the largest providers of such services in the state of Ohio.
We believe that our entire community continues to have access to quality health care services, including near the former Good Samaritan Hospital campus. We also have been successful in retaining jobs, wit approximately 90 percent of positions at the Good Samaritan Hospital site redeployed elsewhere within the health system.
We are commited to preparing the site for redevelopment and have pledged several million dollars in additional funds to enhance its attractieness to developers.