BEDFORD, Ohio (WJW) – The city of Bedford continued its fight in court against the University Hospitals’ decision to close its Bedford Medical Facility emergency department and inpatient services, effectively shutting down the community hospital Friday.
Tuesday, Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Gall issued a stay in the legal proceeding with both parties scheduled to continue discussions next month.
The courtroom was packed with Bedford residents, community supporters, clergy and city officials.
“We don’t want to give up the hospital… That’s a vital, important part of our community,” said Bedford Mayor Stan Koci. “We couldn’t just sit back and say, ‘Oh, okay, close it.’ It’s too important not just to our city but to our surrounding communities.”
This latest decision comes after Bedford’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the hospital emergency room from closing was denied last week.
“He could have hit the gavel and we’re done, so we’re not and we’re not going to give up the fight for all our people,” said Koci.
University Hospitals closed both inpatient and emergency services, citing a shortage of staff and saying it remains committed to residents. In July, the hospital announced physician offices would remain open at both locations.
Last week, Bedford officials filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, alleging discrimination and a breach of the civil rights of residents.
A copy of the letter shared with FOX 8 stated, “Bedford, Bedford Heights and Maple Heights are communities in which the majority of the populations are African Americans, economically challenged and on Medicaid. Its decision to close the Hospital when viewed against these demographics is discrimination in its finest form.”
Some residents said the closure would limit their access to health care.
“It’s really convenient for me. When I don’t have transportation, I can walk to the hospital,” said resident Bertha Lynn.
In the complaint, Bedford requested an investigation into the decision to close the hospital in addition to requesting the emergency department remain open.
“We’re very pleased with the outcome today and I think we look forward to sitting at the table for genuine discussions with the representative from UH, with the decision makers from UH. That has been our intent from the start,” said Mike Mallis, Bedford city manager.