Cooper Green supporters: "We are going to be here forever" - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Cooper Green supporters: "We are going to be here forever"

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Another Thursday brought another Cooper Green Mercy Hospital rally.

Allegations about mismanagement of indigent care dollars are nothing new. In fact, one month ago, ABC 33/40 took a look at audits dating back to the 1990s and found the state had not flagged the county for misuse of funds.

But supporters aren't about to end their fight.

Before Cooper Green opened, some of them didn't have any access to medical care. Times have changed and the hospital isn't closing, but those facts aren't easing fears.

Every Thursday, the same group is outside Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

"We are going to be here forever. We aren't going until they straighten this thing out," said Representative John Rogers.

These patients and supporters will fight for the only hospital that's shown them mercy.

"I don't know what my healthcare condition is going to be tomorrow. I don't know," said Representative Mary Moore.

That scares Moore who lived through the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.

"Most time by the time we had a chance to go to the hospital, we were so sick," she said.

She remembers when most black people didn't have insurance and the old Hillman and Slossfield clinics were the only places seeing black patients. But white patients went first, which meant Moore and her siblings had to save a place in a line for her aunt who had breast cancer and couldn't stand in line overnight.

"We swapped out family members all night long. Next day, same thing would happen- if there were more white patients than black, the whites would be seen first," said Moore.

Moore says hospital visits meant a trip to the basement where pregnant women delivered in the same room sick men were being treated in. But many people never made it there.

"You wake up, someone couldn't make it to the doctor. You see the corner's car coming or policeman's coming," she said. "When my grandmother couldn't afford insurance, she died at home. We had to take care of her. The policeman came and pronounced her dead."

The indigent care fund was established in 1965 to build and finance Cooper Green.

The hospital opened in 1972 on former church property and providing healthcare to anyone- insured or not.

"That's what Cooper Green is all about. It's about compassion," said Moore.

A compassion Moore and others fear is leaving with in-patient care.

"How do we call Lord, Lord and have no compassion ourselves?," she said.

Moore says the fight will continue in the legislature where she believes some lawmakers will try to unearmark all of Cooper Green's funding.

Cooper Green Hospital is not closing. Patients are encouraged to make and keep appointments.

A healthcare consultant is developing a new model for indigent care. It will not included emergency and in-patient care. No date for the end of those services has been set.

 

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