North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 10, 2012

Cooper Green to close ER, hospital beds on December 31

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

BIRMINGHAM — The emergency room and all acute-care services at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital will close at the end of the year, thanks to a decision by Jefferson County Manager Tony Petelos on Monday.

According to a statement released by Petelos’ office, and confirmed by County Commissioner Joe Knight in a post on his Facebook page, Cooper Green will no longer handle emergency-room and inpatient care as of December 31. The county-operated hospital will surrender its acute-care license that day.

“This is an important strategic decision,” Petelos said in the statement. “We are transforming an unsustainable 40-year-old system into an accessible, efficient 21st century healthcare provider.”

Cooper Green will transition into an urgent- and primary-care facility, which will operate from 8 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week. Current outpatient services will remain intact.

The press statement said that the county will work with other health care providers to find appropriate treatment for acute-care patients still at Cooper Green.

The hospital’s chief financial officer told county commissioners that the facility would have a shortfall of $10 million for the 2011 fiscal year.

The move by Petelos is the end result of a vote by the commission in December to stop inpatient care. That move has brought sustained protests from community activists and politicians, particularly State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham.