No Good Samaritans

The battle for Good Sam isn’t over

By Mark Luedtke

Everybody has heard the news: Premier Health is closing Good Samaritan Hospital. It’s the talk of the town. In a peaceful society, one ordered by property rights, that would be the end of the story. But we don’t live in a peaceful society. We live in a society dominated by government coercion that exists to steal property from its rightful owners. That’s why the Good Sam story isn’t over.

Politics is the competition between ruling factions to see who controls government’s power of coercion. Rich cronies typically dominate politics, but sometimes populism takes over. A populist wave made Trump president of the US, Macron president of France, and won the Brexit vote.

Right now populists and crony Premier are battling over Good Sam, and we’re witnessing some of it being played out in the press. It’s a tug of war, going back and forth.

Premier’s decision makes good business sense. Keeping Good Sam opened threatened their long-term viability. But they’ve known Good Sam would close for at least a decade. According to Premier’s narrative in the press, this was a recent decision, but evidence says otherwise. The first piece of evidence is the significant expansion at Miami Valley Hospital over the last decade. That expansion allowed Miami Valley to take the load from Good Sam.

Premier’s Good Sam update page states, “Because of the size of Miami Valley Hospital, it would be impossible to transfer those services over to Good Samaritan Hospital, which is much smaller in square footage. Many of the tertiary services that are currently housed at Miami Valley, would be extremely expensive to move.”

Of course Miami Valley is bigger. Premier expanded it for a decade. Furthermore, the Dayton Business Journal reports, “In 2012, Good Sam had nearly 18,000 admissions, marking a decline of some 3,600 patients in the course of just five years. In addition, the hospital has gone from using 400 of its 491 beds back in 2012 to just 225 beds as of 2016, according to data from the state of Ohio.”

In other words Premier has been shutting down Good Sam and transferring its patients and staff to Miami Valley for years. This recent announcement is the final act of a long-planned and executed process.

The prevailing narrative also claims Premier just told city rulers about the closing. That claim doesn’t fit the evidence either. To believe that, you’d have to believe city rulers were unaware of Good Sam’s rising costs and falling business for years. That’s not how crony politics works. If Premier really had kept this process from rulers, the backlash would have been overwhelming. Premier executives would have been arrested. Premier and Dayton’s rulers planned to close Good Sam together and launched the plan together long ago.

The reaction in the Dayton Daily News was immediate and favored populists. One headline read, “Community Angry, Devastated, Concerned.” Another read, “Community Leaders ‘Shocked’ over Hospital Closure.”

“The closing of Good Samaritan Hospital will be a crippling blow to the west Dayton community and raises several concerns going forward, said three people who represent the hundreds of residents living near the 86-year-old facility,” the DDN lamented.

But Premier’s well-planned strategy quickly changed the presentation. A week later the DDN had turned the other way. It took that long for it to publish the numbers justifying the closure that Dayton Business Journal printed the week before.

From other articles, instead of protesting, the NAACP and a church leader wanted a path forward. A neighborhood group saw hope in closing. The DNN had flip-flopped from devastated to hopeful, favoring Premier.

Then Mayor Whaley intervened to benefit herself. “The Dayton mayor said city officials were ‘not told the truth’ when asking Premier Health late last year about whether Good Samaritan Hospital was closing,” the DDN reported.

Whaley’s statement proves rulers knew Good Sam was in the process of being closed. They regularly asked about it and received updates. They supposedly just weren’t aware exactly when the final act would occur.

If true, big deal. They hid the process from the people for years, and now they pretend Premier misled them. It’s all for show. An admittedly entertaining show.

Dayton’s rulers are squeezed between crony Premier and west side populists. They’re playing both sides to gain the best advantage. I predict they’ll continue paying lip service to the populists while backing Premier. Lying to and stealing from the people is how they make a living.

But a populist revolt could change their self-serving calculation.

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Mark Luedtke
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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