UAB to takeover Cooper Green

Debate over UAB & Cooper Green Mercy Health

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Major changes are coming for healthcare for the poor in Jefferson County.

Thursday Jefferson County Commissioners will vote to transfer control of Cooper Green Mercy Health Services to UAB as part of a new healthcare authority.

But there was heated debate today. Jefferson County Commissioners Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson both oppose the move. They are concerned about Cooper Green employees’ jobs, and about treating those in need.

“Today wasn’t a good day for poor people of Jefferson County. So Transparency was my biggest objection today,” Scales said.

There was also opposition to the healthcare board which UAB will control with four out of seven appointments.

Jefferson County Public Health Officer Mark Wilson asked the commission to delay the vote until he could present an independent healthcare authority as another option. The commission said no.

“UAB is much more qualified. They will receive state of the art medical care and they will be able to administer it to more individuals,” Jimmie Stephens, Jefferson County Commission President said.

Cooper Green employees showed up at the commission meeting. They are concerned about their jobs.

“For someone now to come in and take away from me something I’m continuing to work towards, and just say I’m not going to have my benefits anymore, I’m not going to have my retirement. I’m speaking for everybody,” said Delores Temple, Respriatory and Rehab Manager at Cooper Green.

The commission split along racial and party lines to send up for a vote Thursday.

“The economy of scale. Pick up the expertise. Pick up a new facility. Why wouldn’t we do that?” Stephens said.

The commission will vote Thursday to finalize the deal. If the county passes it but doesn’t like the deal, they could walk away from it.

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