Massillon's mayor says Affinity closure blindsided the city

MASSILLON, OHIO - Now that Affinity Medical Center is out, Massillon is stepping in and trying to figure out what's next, with more than 800 jobs lost and the only Emergency Room and trauma center that city has gone.

Some of the 808 employees being laidoff from Affinity will likely be absorbed by nearby medical centers in Canton, Massillon's mayor said. But it's still unclear whether the city of Massillon will be able to save the hospital.

"For the entire city, it really put us into a panic," said Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

Catazaro-Perry remembers exactly what the CEO of Affinity Medical Center said when he told her on January 5th that the city's only hospital would be closing.

"He said at times, they were losing $1 million a month and that they could not continue to keep the hospital open," she said.

But what he told her next she says was the real shock - in less than 30 days, Affinity would be laying off all employees, no longer accepting patients and completely ceasing operations.

"You would think that a corporation would share their exit plan. We have not heard or seen the exit plan. It really is a reckless way to close a hospital," said Catazaro-Perry.

The Mayor says hospital administrators didn't share any plan to move patients, relocate doctors, or help facilitate a new owner, forcing the city to take the hospital to court. A judge ultimately issued a restraining order on the hospital and possibly, pending another court hearing, a 120-day closing period to help employees relocate.

"We can always recover financially, but like I said, the health and welfare of our citizens is our greatest concern," said Catazaro-Perry.

Not only will the hospital closure have a major economic toll on Massillon, but also not having an ER or trauma center in Western Stark County might mean the difference between life and death.

The mayor's work has shifted entirely to making sure that another hospital steps in and fills the city's enormous need.

"Everything that you can imagine is on the table. So we're hoping to find a resolution within the timeline, the 120 day timeline that we've been given," she said.

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