A Stark County judge has given employees of Affinity Medical Center a temporary lifeline following the hospital's announcement to end operations in early February.
Judge Chryssa Hartnett issued a temporary restraining order Friday that would require the hospital to stay open for an additional 120 days.
The official ruling will come Feb. 1.
Judge Hartnett said in her supplemental judgment that the temporary restraining order was granted "because of the irreparable harm and injury that will exist" if it wasn't granted.
Affinity CEO John Walsh issued the following statement Friday:
The hospital was notified of Judge Chryssa Hartnett’s ruling earlier this morning. We have temporarily suspended wind down efforts for the 14-day period it requires and will continue operating all services for which we have appropriate staffing available.
Our efforts to negotiate with the Mayor’s Office and other interested parties the last few days have not been productive and we share the Court’s interest in identifying an equitable solution.
Most importantly, we’d like to recognize and applaud our dedicated staff for their professionalism and constant focus on our patients during this uncertain time. They are the embodiment of the term “caregiver” and we are grateful for the contributions of each nurse, physician, administrative and support employee and volunteer.
Affinity Medical Center has been in operation since 1910 but, with six consecutive years of unprofitability, the 156-bed acute care hospital will be permanently shedding 808 jobs when it closes.
Dr. Ajay Seth, a renown orthopedic surgeon, performs surgeries at Affinity one day a week. News of the hospital’s future closure was as shocking as it was jarring, he previously told News 5.
“I don’t think anybody here saw that coming,” Dr. Seth said. “Massillon has had a community hospital for over a hundred years. It’s very difficult to think of a community like that — that is tight-knit — not to have their own community hospital. This place to close the way it did, it’s something that is really going to rock that city, unfortunately in a negative way.”
The local union representing the nurses at Affinity Medical Center started collecting testimonials from people in the community for a page set up called, www.saveaffinity.org, which is an effort to save the hospital.