The civil rights complaint about Good Samaritan Hospital closing is being investigated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Here’s five things to know about the story so far and what’s next.
1. The complaint is early in the process of being investigated
When a complaint is filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the department’s Office of Civil Rights first reviews whether it has the legal authority to investigate the complaint.
If it does have the authority to look into the particular complaint, an investigator is assigned. This is what just happened with Good Samaritan case.
The investigator will gather information about the complaint. This research can include things like interviews or site visits.
The Office of Civil Rights will eventually issue a decision on whether or not civil rights have been violated. If rights have been violated, the provider being investigated — which in this case is the hospital — would come up with an action that corrects the violation.
2. The complaint says the hospital closing violates the Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act
The group of clergy, which have organized as Clergy Community Coalition, originally filed the complaint with the U.S. in May, which says 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. Some of the concerns include longer travel times to health services, the loss of the ER and the loss of the maternity unit and OB/GYN services.
Premier Health said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that the hospital network “has been mindful of the community’s concerns from the very beginning of this process and has remained true to its mission throughout this transition.”
“From the beginning, patient safety has been our guiding principle for determining our timeline for the closing. While we will cooperate with any investigation, this week’s timeline remains unchanged,” Premier stated.
3. In the mean time, the hospital is still scheduled to close soon
The ER will close at noon tomorrow, July 19, and the hospital will close its doors for the final time at 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 23.
There’s no timetable yet on the demolition work. Religious artifacts at the Catholic-affiliated hospital will have to be appropriately transferred to new locations and demolition projects have to get certain regulatory approvals. Premier has said it will be a long term process.
4. The investigation prompted the Dayton mayor to weigh in.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has asked Premier Health to delay any demolition of Good Samaritan Hospital to allow time to complete the federal investigation.
“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.
5. The settlement of another civil rights case over a hospital closing drew criticism
A civil rights complaint with similar concerns was filed in 2009 against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center over the planned closure of a hospital in a primarily black service area.
The hospital never reopened, but after the complaint was filed, an agreement was reached between the hospital and HHS that resulted in support for a transportation service to another facility, and an expansion of primary care services and hours. However, community members have been critical of the plan’s implementation, saying the expanded hours ended after a few years, and those near to the former hospital still have problems with access to health care.