Where the Jefferson County Commission thought there may be a speed bump, there turned out to be a gorge. Their decision to close Cooper Green Mercy Hospital has been met with stiff opposition, not only from the indigent patients whose health and well-being are dependent on the care that was once provided by the hospital, but also from those who believe that the fate of Cooper Green will negatively impact the entire healthcare structure of Birmingham.
Overcrowded emergency rooms, delays in healthcare, and reallocation of much-needed funds leading to less up-to-date services are just a few of the trickle-down effects that will be felt by Birmingham as a whole, this latter group argues. With the current plan set in place for former Cooper Green patients in need of medical services as complicated as it is obscure, they believe it’s not out of line to say that people’s lives are at stake.
A community forum is set to take place Tuesday, June 25 at the Birmingham Public Library in the Richard Arrington Jr. Auditorium from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The forum, which will feature area healthcare experts, will focus on potential solutions, a cure for the fading hospital and the healthcare crisis that has swept over Birmingham in the wake of Cooper Green reducing its patient care and closing its emergency room services.
The Jefferson County Commission contends that Cooper Green was a drain for the county’s funds and that there was no reason for Jefferson County to stay in the hospital business. Another factor may be a 2009 civil lawsuit that was filed on behalf of the patients of Cooper Green and was reported by Weld in January. The lawsuit states that at least $71 million from the indigent care fund, a crucial part of Cooper Green’s budget, was reallocated to Jefferson County’s general fund, leaving Cooper Green’s budget in the red.
The Jefferson County Medical Society’s characterization of the County Commission’s decision to close Cooper Green, calling it an “abject failure,” has become something of a rallying cry for those aware of the implications of a breakdown in Birmingham’s healthcare structure. The focus of this forum, the second attempt at a public discussion over the fate of Cooper Green, will be to plot out a course of action that can be taken to solve the looming crisis.
The public forum, which is sponsored in part by Weld, will the be unveiling of the proposed plans to both policy makers and the public alike. Any and all are encouraged to come be a part of the discussion.