Bedford, Richmond Heights Face Loss of Revenue and Lack of Nearby ERs When UH Bedford, UH Richmond Ceases Inpatient Hospital Services

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The mayors of Bedford and Richmond Heights are allaying residents’ fears and calculating the city’s lost revenue following the announcement by teaching hospitals that inpatient services are leaving community hospitals in those cities .

UH announced last week that inpatient, surgical and emergency services will cease at UH Richmond and UH Bedford, beginning August 12. Staff and resources will be reallocated to other UH facilities.

UH blamed a lack of healthcare workers, particularly nurses, for the moves.

The closures in Bedford and Richmond Heights come as UH spends $236 million expanding its Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood.

Stan Koci, Mayor of Bedford said his cellphone died on the day of the announcement, unable to cope with the influx of calls from residents upset that their community hospital, which provided excellent medical care, would no longer be there.

And, similarly, residents of Richmond Heights are worried about the emergency department closing, said Mayor Kim Thomas. She reassured them that they will always have access to nearby high-quality medical care and emergency medical services such as the 911 system.

Residents living near UH Richmond, including low-income people and seniors, depend on this emergency room for medical care, Thomas said.

“I worry about this population,” she said. “We want to make sure they get the health care they deserve.”

Medical services will continue at UH’s Bedford and Richmond facilities, and the UH Richmond Behavioral Health Unit will remain open. However, Bedford and Richmond will no longer be classified as hospitals.

In place of departing services, UH plans to launch new wellness programs and services focused on wellness and safety, maternal and child health, food security, and workforce development. .

“Our hospitals in Bedford and Richmond Heights are among the smallest and least utilized in UH. Consolidating services to nearby sites allows us to staff more efficiently during this critical time,” said Dr. Paul Hinchey, UH Acting Chief Operating Officer and President of the UH Community Delivery Network.

Rumors of closures had swirled for years, but news of the withdrawal of inpatient services still felt like a blow in both cities.

“I went through a whole range of emotions, I guess,” Koci said, describing her reaction. “We kind of knew this was going to happen for a few years; it looked like they were working on it. But yes, emotions – anger was one of them. I’m just trying to figure out exactly why.

None of the mayors received advance notice of the moves despite regular meetings with UH administrators.

“Last meeting we had a month ago, they were just talking about bringing in new services,” Koci said. “And (then I get) the message at 7:30 in the morning and they close in 30 days. You don’t make that decision the night before.

Thomas was tipped the night before news of UH Richmond’s closure was imminent.

For the past several months, Thomas has continued to schedule meetings with UH, believing it was giving them an opportunity to break the news of the city’s shutdown.

“Every time, deep inside me, I kept saying, ‘This is the time they’re going to tell us it’s closing. The last two meetings, that hasn’t happened,” she said.

Emergency room closures mean a longer commute to help

City leaders and residents of Bedford and Richmond Heights fear that when emergency rooms at their local hospitals close, EMS teams will have to drive about six miles further to reach emergency departments in UH ​​Ahuja and UH Lake. West.

Those extra six miles add minutes to the normal EMS response time, especially considering traffic and weather, Koci said. This can be important, especially in critical situations.

“I think it can affect people’s safety and all kinds of things,” he said.

UH Bedford was the closest emergency room to the southeast part of Cuyahoga County, so its closure affects Bedford Heights, Maple Heights, Oakwood, Walton Hills and other communities, Koci said.

The two emergency departments scheduled to close were busy, though UH officials said they were underutilized, Koci said.

Job loss affects local economies

About 600 caregivers — 337 at UH Richmond and 280 at UH Bedford — will be affected. They will be offered jobs at other UH facilities and layoffs are not expected, UH said.

When these employees leave, the cities of Bedford and Richmond Heights will have to adjust to a loss of income tax and other revenue. Neighboring businesses will suffer when fewer hospital workers buy fast food lunches or fill their gas tanks on their way to work.

Richmond Heights estimates it will lose nearly $1 million a year in taxes and other revenue, Thomas said.

Bedford is trying to calculate the economic impact, but Koci predicted it will be significant.

Wellness services will focus on preventative care

Thomas is optimistic about UH’s plans to implement health and wellness programs at its community hospital. UH is committed to strengthening its partnership with Richmond Heights and continuing to support the sponsorship of its firefighters, and bringing back jobs by centering health and wellness programs at UH Bedford, Thomas said.

In the past, UH Bedford has partnered with the City of Bedford for vaccination clinics, free health screenings and EMS supplies, Thomas said.

“We agreed to continue the dialogue on how to reinvest and better serve our community,” said Thomas of Richmond Heights. “I look forward to the new preventive and educational service programs that UH plans to provide to our community.”

Health and wellness programs will not compensate for the loss of hospital services for Bedford, Koci said. This will always mean the loss of well-paid medical and nursing positions.

Cities prepare for the future without local hospitals

Another health system contacted Richmond Heights about the possibility of providing health services, Thomas said. She is continuing talks with the supplier, whom she declined to identify.

“I want to make sure residents get the best health care possible during this difficult time,” Thomas said.

Bedford town officials anticipate the long-term impact of the closure on the town, Koci said. “We havee we need to look at all of this and do our due diligence and do what is right for the community,” he said.

Hospitals close as needs change

Over the decades, many specialty hospitals in the Cleveland area closed when they were no longer needed, said JB Silvers, professor of health care financing at the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.

UH used the nationwide nursing shortage as the reason for changes that were likely coming sooner or later, Silvers said.

“I don’t see it as some sort of dramatic thing,” Silvers said. “In this case, they closed because fewer people are going there and you couldn’t staff them anyway. So it’s a double whammy, I think.

The Cleveland Clinic took similar action when it closed Lakewood and Huron hospitals. Silvers called the two medical centers “Outdated facilities that were well past their prime.”

The clinic’s 108-year-old Lakewood Hospital closed its inpatient services in 2016, allowing the health system to move forward with plans to replace the facility with a health care clinic. $34 million family health. That same year, the The clinic opened a new hospital just west on Interstate 90 in Avon.

The previous year, the Lakewood City Council voted to close the City Hospital due to declining patient numbers and revenue.

Huron HospitalI In East Cleveland, once one of the region’s oldest health care providers, closed in 2011.

The current trend is to route patients to large regional hospitals for complicated surgeries and treatments, but to build outpatient facilities in communities for other health services, Silvers said.

Throughout northeast Ohio, hospital systems are building new facilities.

UH has focused on UH Ahuja Phase 2, a $236.1 million project that will increase bed capacity and access to operating rooms in Beachwood.

This is one of several hospital construction projects that have recently been completed or are underway in the region in 2021. The projects, taken collectively, total $1.4 billion.

The MetroHealth System Glick Center, an 11-story, $946 million hospital under construction, is the cornerstone of MetroHealth’s $1 billion campus transformation project.

Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights opened its $15 million Lozick Cancer Pavilion last year, an addition to its existing cancer center.

The clinic recently announced plans for $1.3 billion construction projects in Ohio, Florida and London, including a new neurological institute on Carnegie Avenue.