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Cleveland wants a health system to run, expand its public clinics

The request, sent out Monday, would for two years give the Thomas F. McCafferty Health Center, the J. Glen Smith Health Center; and the Miles-Broadway Health Center to an organization that could upgrade the buildings, expand the centers hours and incorporate the facilities into the Cleveland’s “health care safety net as fully-functioning primary health care providers.” Cleveland estimates 10 to 15 percent of its residents are without insurance.

CLEVLEAND, Ohio — The City of Cleveland wants to turn over its three public health centers to an independent provider and dramatically expand the services.

The request, sent out Monday, would for two years give the Thomas F. McCafferty, J. Glen Smith and Miles-Broadway health centers to an organization that could upgrade the buildings, expand the centers hours and incorporate the facilities into Cleveland’s “health care safety net as fully-functioning primary health care providers.”

“These are difficult times and it’s important  to look at how we can improve and do an even better job,” city Health Commissioner Karen Butler said.

About 15 to 20 percent of its residents don’t have insurance, according to the city. The recent Ohio Family Health Survey estimated about 17.5 percent of adults in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, are uninsured. More than 3 percent of county children also don’t have insurance, the survey said.

Cleveland spends $180,000 annually to maintain the three facilities. The Miles-Broadway center isn’t operating and the other two MetroHealth Medical Center provides services at the other two facilities.

Butler said the city wouldn’t save any money on the new project. Instead, it would be “cost neutral.”

Currently the clinics are open, at the most, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays with sporadic weekend hours. Services such as  immunizations, STD testing and women’s health services rotate on a weekly basis.

Under the new plan, each city health clinic would operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every weekday and provide regular Saturday hours. Services would include pediatric and adult primary care, nutrition services, asthma care and financial counselors, among other things, according to city documentation.

Butler said the city is also interested in adding dental services, transportation help and “other unique things we don’t have.”

The city current partnership is on a smaller scale. MetroHealth has a month-to-month lease at the McCafferty and Glen Smith centers in exchange for staffing the city clinics. MetroHealth provides primary care services at each location, among other things, while running its own operations, including the gay-friendly Pride Clinic at the McCafferty center.

MetroHealth Vice President Eileen Korey said the health system looks forward to competing for the new work.

The city sent its proposal to Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, University Hospitals, St. Vincent Charity Hospital, Neighborhood Family Practice, Care Alliance and Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services. Only Cleveland-based organizations are eligible.

[Front-page image of Cleveland City Hall courtesy from Flickr user dreamspell photography]

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