The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Hospital Closure Leaves Michigan U.P. in the Lurch

Jun 3, 2024

The Aspirus hospital system closed the Ontonagon, Michigan, hospital on April 19, 2024, and the Ontonagon community lost access to inpatient and emergency health care. Aspirus said the closure “wasn’t about the money.” It’s always about the money.

They said the hospital closed because the healthcare needs of the people in Ontonagon had changed and a clinic would meet their current needs. A Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. clinic is not going to handle accidents and injuries that occur on the job, at home or school or hiking in the nearby Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park.

Peoples’ healthcare needs have not changed. Aspirus’ drive for profit didn’t change, either. The same day the hospital closure was announced, February 19, Aspirus announced a $30 million investment in improvements to their Laurium location, also in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In 2007, the Village of Ontonagon sold the community hospital to Aspirus for one dollar and the Village also agreed to cover the pensions for 134 former employees. Sometime after 2007, Aspirus announced their intention to invest $15.8 million in a new Ontonagon hospital complete with inpatient and emergency care. Once the closure was announced, they removed any mention of it from their website.

People are afraid for their futures and angry about the lies and broken promises. They are also looking for a solution to the crisis they are facing.

Workers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan mines, mills and lumber industry produced the enormous wealth that fueled the nation and was the foundation for its infrastructure. Denying health care, a life necessity, to current generations in order to enrich the upper class, should not be allowed to prevail.