Nurses union: Abrupt closure of Ohio hospital would escalate opioid crisis

National Nurses United is speaking out against Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health's plan to close Affinity Medical Center, a 156-bed hospital in Massillon, Ohio, on Feb. 4.

Quorum, a spinoff of Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, said Friday it plans to shut down the facility due to financial troubles. The company said declining revenues, increasing provider compensation and a competitive market caused Affinity Medical Center to record financial losses for the last six years.

NNU, whose affiliate National Nurses Organizing Committee-Ohio represents 250 registered nurses at Affinity, opposes the closure. On Monday, the union said shutting down the hospital could worsen the opioid crisis in the area.

"This is an unwarranted closure that will cause enormous suffering, especially in the midst of a severe opioid crisis that has had a huge impact on the community," Jean Ross, RN, co-president of NNU, said in a statement. She also said it would be hard to replace the cardiac care services the hospital provides.

The union called on Quorum to work with local leaders to protect patient care.

"If Quorum and CHS are unwilling to keep Affinity open, it should commit to work with elected officials and the community to develop another operator to retain the vital community resource, or be held fully accountable for the disaster likely to follow," Ms. Ross said.

However, securing a buyer for the facility may be difficult. Quorum decided to shut down the hospital after trying to secure a new owner for the facility without success, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Affinity nurses will hold a press conference Tuesday to discuss a campaign to save the hospital.

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