Inpatient care could be stopped at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital

Within a month's time, inpatient care could cease at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. This came about in Tuesday's Jefferson County Commission Committee. Some commissioner say eliminating inpatient care will free up money to provide outpatients services.

Commissioner Sandra Little-Brown says she will not allow that to happen without a fight.

"To close Cooper Green in 30 days. Uh-uh. The streets will be full, 6th Avenue will be full, this courthouse will be full. And I will be one of the people to help make it full. No brothers, we're not closing Cooper Green in 30 days," said Little-Brown

In spite of commissioner Brown's protest, the motion carried with a three to two vote, to discontinue inpatient care at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. Commissioners David Carrington, Jimmie Stephens, and Joe Knight voted in favor of the plan, which will be placed on the commission's agenda for next week. Commissioner George Bowman and Little-Brown voted against it. "I don't think it's been thought thoroughly through. So I do not trust this," said Little-Brown.

Commissioner Jimmie Stephens says he has thought this through. Stephens told commissioners he studied the use of inpatient care, outpatient care, and emergency room visits at Cooper Green. He believes this plan will "adversely affect the least number of lives.""This has to be one of the hard and difficult decisions that we make as commissioners to free up funds and revenue to impact the lives of citizens throughout Jefferson county," he said.

Cooper Green has not operated within its budget for the past several years. Everyone is aware of the drastic cuts needed to keep the county afloat because of the loss of an occupational tax. Still, Little-Brown says this solution came as a surprise to her. "We were supposed to pull those plans together, my understanding, and get a company to look at them and see what's best and bring us the information, the recommendations," she said.

Commission president David Carrington says inpatient care is too much of a burden to bear. "I believe there are alternate ways that inpatient care can be provided in Jefferson county without the county running an inpatient hospital. By getting rid of inpatient care we will be able to focus more dollars and efforts to providing other services to the constituents," said Carrington.

Commissioner Joe Knight spoke with media after the meeting. He says he would like to see Cooper Green become a specialty clinic. He says it's not very complicated but would involve a lot of moving parts.

Carrington says he didn't expect to get this far today. But they will need to start looking at options soon. He says maybe Cooper Green needs a legal representative to look out for them. Knight says he as been in touch with surrounding hospitals and he's been told they are ready to absorb additional patients that would come from cooper green. The 30 days in intended to give them time to come up with options. {}{}