Some Jefferson County lawmakers question if Cooper Green Mercy Hospital is ready to end inpatient care. The county plans to surrender its hospital license at midnight Monday, Dec. 31.
Thursday morning, Jefferson County Manager and healthcare consultant Otis Story met with the Jefferson County legislative delegation. Petelos told the group the county can't continue to operate a full service hospital.
"Ninety percent of all the patients were urgent care patients. The emergency room will no longer be there. It will transfer into an urgent care facility," Petelos said.
Petelos says there would be no overnight stays and those who need inpatient care would be transferred to other hospitals. But Birmingham Representative John Rogers says the county is not ready.
"They can't do it. They don't have a plan in place. I asked them point blank what hospital to you have a sign contract with? They didn't answer the question. They don't have one," Rogers said.
Petelos says there are agreements with other hospitals. The county manager says indigent care funds will follow those patients to other medical facilities.
Meanwhile, Birmingham attorney Emory Anthony, who has been working with the Save Cooper Green Committee, delivered a letter to Petelos and other county commissioners that the placement of 210 employees on administrative leave without pay was not according to Jefferson County Personnel Board rules and federal laws.
"There is no legal element that gives them the right to do administrative leave without pay for economic reasons. You can do a reduction in force," Anthony said.
But Petelos disagrees. "We worked with our HR department. We worked with the attorneys. Everything was done lawfully and it was a very difficult process," Petelos said.
Anthony is encouraging all 210 employees to appeal their dismissal to the personnel board by Monday. At this time Petelos says there are six remaining patients at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. They will be discharged or moved to other hospitals over the weekened.
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