Cooper Green patients and employees concerned about possible healthcare authority

Future of Cooper Green
Future of Cooper Green
Published: Feb. 25, 2019 at 10:49 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It was a packed house Monday night inside a town hall meeting to address the possibility of a hospital authority running Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

Patient and employees brought their concerns and plenty of questions.

One employee said, “When they call meetings like this , the damage is already done.”

Another had a question about job security.

“Where are our finances going, our insurance,” she asked.

The Jefferson County Commission could be getting out of the healthcare business. The commission is looking at establishing a healthcare authority with UAB Health Systems.

This would mean UAB would oversee the day to day operations of Cooper Green. It also means those current employees could fall under that health care system.

The Jefferson County Health Officer and head of the county health department, tried to answer as many questions as he could.

“To be perfectly honest with you, whether it’s under a UAB health authority or another health authority, it would be no longer be under the personnel board,” Wilson said .

“And to be really honest with you. I don’t there will be any guarantee long term that anyone would be able to keep their jobs long term,” he continued.

The authority could include three commissioners and four doctors from UAB. The focus would be the quality of care of indigent patients, funding for that care, and Cooper Green employees.

Commissioner Sheila Tyson hosted the town hall. She said these decisions were made before she was elected and wanted to let the community know what could be ahead.

“If I wasn’t at the table writing a proposal, I would not want to be involved in voting on a proposal I had nothing to do with,” Tyson said.

She said the healthcare authority could be voted on in a matter of weeks, but would take about 18 months to roll out.

“We received 100 of calls and majority of the people were employees and patients wanting to know the status of the hospital,” she continued.

State Representative Merika Coleman and Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales were also on hand for Monday’s meeting.

Commission President Jimmie Stephens has said the commission wants quality healthcare for indigent patients and if UAB is a better fit to do that, it’s something they need to consider.

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