Where will we go? That's the question from people who depend on Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.
Jefferson County commissioners plan to shutdown inpatient care at the hospital and many patients are afraid they'll end up out in the cold.
Supporters of Cooper Green strongly objected to ending inpatient care Tuesday.
Wednesday, Jefferson County commissioners who supported ending the service say they are committed to quality medical care for the poor.
"We focus our energies, our money as a county on keeping the specialty outpatient clinic, expanding primary care. Expanding access," commission president David Carrington said.
Commissioners envision turning the hospital into a clinic that provides preventive care to those with little or no insurance.
"People are going to Cooper Green when they are ill. We need for them to come on a regular basis to maintain their health," commissioner Jimmie Stephens said.
At this time, there is no plan for transferring patients who need overnight care to other hospitals.
UAB Health System's CEO Will Ferniany released a statement calling for provisions to fund the care of Cooper Green patients in other hospitals.
"Just closing the inpatient unit without provision for care will jeopardize the care of the patients and will place an undue burden on other Birmingham hospitals which already take care of over 70 percent of the indigent care in Jefferson County. The Birmingham hospitals have submitted a proposal to the County Commission on how this transition can occur and are willing to work with the County, given its fiscal restraints, for the best needs of the patients," Ferniany stated.
Commissioners say a plan will be in place by Dec. 1 when inpatient care ends. But supporters of Cooper Green are worried.
"Cooper Green needs to remain like it is, for the people of Birmingham depend on Cooper Green," Cooper Green supporter Rev. Tommy Bailey said.
Carrington says he has been in contact with UAB and other Birmingham area hospitals to be a part of the plan to transfer patients and the indigent care dollars to other hospitals. He says the plan will be ready in time.
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