The Good Samaritan Spirit Carries On

Although Good Samaritan Hospital no longer operates at Salem Avenue and Philadelphia Drive, its 86-year legacy of medical innovation and quality care in northwest Dayton lives on through the ongoing work of its employees – the vast majority of whom have moved into similar roles at other Premier Health facilities.

Premier Health made job offers to approximately 1,400 Good Samaritan employees who expressed interest in continuing employment within the health system, with the remainder choosing to retire or take jobs elsewhere.

While the hospital’s closing has been deeply felt by many who worked there, stories abound of Good Samaritan Hospital employees experiencing warm welcomes at their new work homes.

“I have been greeted with warmth and smiles; people are very eager and happy to help me out,” said Lisa Skelly, RN, BSN, general surgery nurse manager at Miami Valley Hospital. “I am so pleased with how this transition has gone for my team and me. We have been blessed with a Premier Proud welcome.”

Pj Luttrull-Priest, now office associate-director of rehab services at Upper Valley Medical Center, said she was overwhelmed with the welcome she received at UVMC, and that happiness for her has been a choice.

“Since the very beginning of my transition, everyone has been so caring and considerate,” she said. “When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE, the executive staff included. It wasn’t a move I was prepared to make, but with all of the kind folks in the Rehab Department and the entire UVMC facility, I am really enjoying my new home. I will never forget my days at Good Sam, nor will I ever forget our Good Samaritan pledge, but I ‘choose’ to be happy at UVMC. While we still have life to live, we must enjoy it, and it is a matter of choice. Always a Good Samaritan!!”

Ashley Lamb, BSN, RN, said the thought of leaving her work family to integrate with a group of strangers “was anxiety-inducing to say the least,” but that the staff of Atrium Medical Center’s Family Birth Center made the transition much easier than she could have ever anticipated.

“They welcomed me with open arms and have been super supportive and empathetic during this big change,” she said. “As a collective, they have taken something that could have been very difficult and made it quite simple. I am thankful for all the staff of the FBC, and I feel blessed to have found my way to Atrium.”

Nicole Williams, PT, DPT, who also now works at Atrium, said she was overcome with feelings of sadness and anger when she was first told about the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital.

“I felt as though I was losing my job – a job that I loved, with people who I truly considered my work family,” she said. “After the initial shock of the situation began to fade, then came the feelings of anxiety. Trying to figure out which place I would move to and how big of a difference it would be seemed to be such a long and exhausting process.”

But Nicole remembers getting into her car after her open house and job shadowing at Atrium thinking, “This is where I want to be.” Now, looking back, she said she could not be happier with the way her transition turned out. And she’s even had unexpected opportunities to work alongside some of her former Good Samaritan colleagues.

“I have found myself referring to this transition as a blessing in disguise so many times,” she said. “I feel that my new role as a physical therapist at Atrium is challenging me in ways that will help me to grow into a better therapist, and I could not be more thankful for the supportive team that I have become a part of. My mentors and coworkers here have made this one of the easiest transitions. I am thankful for their acceptance, and I am excited for my future here.”

Kristin Cunningham, CNE, said that Miami Valley Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Christie Gray, who served as chief nursing officer at Good Samaritan Hospital during the transition, “went above and beyond” to help her find another position after the decision was made to not open the original unit she was set to transition to, and that she was extremely grateful for Christie’s effort.

Kristin’s journey at Miami Valley Hospital started with a phone interview that she thought would be quick, but she and two managers ended up talking for a couple hours, she said.

“They were very pleasant and excited to have me join their teams,” said Kristin. “I began floating back and forth between Good Samaritan Hospital and Miami Valley Hospital in June. I shadowed a few people – Lanette M., who was so nice and had a bubbly personality. I was also paired with another educator, Lorna A., and she gave me the tools I needed to work as an educator at Miami Valley Hospital. Lorna and I had developed a working relationship because a lot of my Good Samaritan Hospital staff were coming to the neuro unit at Miami Valley Hospital. Working with her to get those people oriented went smoothly. Everyone from my nurse manager, associate nurse manager, and all other staff made me feel at home. I really could not have asked for a better experience.”

Ninety years ago, a fund drive raised more than $1 million to build Good Samaritan Hospital, and the hospital’s first chief of staff donated the original four acres of the campus. The hospital opened May 12, 1932, under the Catholic Sisters of Charity, which ran the facility for decades.

Good Samaritan was the first Ohio hospital designed to provide affordable health care to the middle class, said Sister Carol Bauer, Good Sam’s vice president for mission effectiveness.

Over the years, the hospital grew as needs changed and technology evolved. When the Madonna Pavilion was built in 1954 during the post-World War II baby boom, it was the second-largest maternity unit in Ohio.

Sister Carol said Good Samaritan Hospital’s many “firsts” included Dayton’s first cardiac catheterization (1958), open-heart surgery (1958), cardiac care unit (1966), balloon angioplasty (1981), mitral valve repair (1987), and carotid artery stenting (2006).

Good Samaritan Hospital closed July 23, and while the decision was difficult, it also was necessary due to the duplication of services at nearby Miami Valley Hospital and a trend toward shorter hospital stays and increasing outpatient care.

“It was a hard decision emotionally, because Good Samaritan is so symbolic and has done so many wonderful things,” said Premier Health President and CEO Mary Boosalis.

Good Samaritan Hospital’s last president, Eloise Broner, who now serves as chief of shared services for Premier Health, has expressed understanding that the closure is painful for people both inside and outside the hospital. “Over the weeks leading up to the closing, we saw many tears,” she said. “But sometimes you need to feel the loss to move ahead to whatever the future may hold. I like to think the future is bright for the corner of Salem and Philadelphia.”

Premier Health, in continuation of its longstanding efforts to invest in the West Dayton neighborhoods surrounding Good Samaritan Hospital, has committed up to $10 million to redeveloping the site at Salem Avenue and Philadelphia Drive, and is contributing to efforts to find a suitable use for the 13-acre campus.

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