Hospitals

Cleveland Clinic drawing fire for plan to close Huron Hospital trauma unit

Cleveland Clinic has been taking some heat for its decision to close the trauma unit at East Cleveland’s Huron Hospital, but such flaps are nothing new to the celebrated health system.

Cleveland Clinic has been taking some heat for its decision to close the trauma center at East Cleveland’s Huron Hospital, but such flaps are nothing new to the celebrated health system.

Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell, whose ward is near Huron Hospital, declared that he was “hot,” “mad,” and “disappointed” in the Clinic over the decision, NewsNet5 reported.

Not to be outdone, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said he’s directed the city’s Commissioner of Emergency Medical Services to conduct an “in-depth review” of the ramifications of the decision. Jackson said the decision to close Huron’s trauma unit would have an “adverse effect” on city residents in the form of increased 911 response times and travel times for trauma patients.

Huron Hospital will continue to treat some trauma patients, just ones with less-severe injuries than in the past.

According to the Clinic, one of the major issues behind the closing is the difficulty in attracting workers to staff Huron’s trauma center around the clock. The plan is expected to take effect early next year.

The trauma unit has treated 1,060 patients this year compared with an annual emergency room volume of about 28,000 visits at the hospital, so the Clinic is seeking the efficiency — and savings — that’ll come from consolidating Huron’s trauma unit with that of Hillcrest Hospital, which is about 8.5 miles away in Mayfield Heights.

Nonetheless, with the considerable power the Clinic wields, thanks to its status as the city’s largest employer and torch-bearer of the city’s identity to the outside world, it’s hard to believe the trauma center drama won’t blow over.

A similar story played out over the summer in Lakewood, when the inner-ring suburb’s city council initially objected to the Clinic’s plan to shift Lakewood Hospital’s services to another of the health system’s West Side locations, Fairview Hospital. Lakewood’s City Council went so far as to consider emergency legislation that would’ve forced the Clinic to maintain the trauma unit in the city.

In the end, though, Lakewood —  which receives about $1 million annually from the Clinic for the right to lease the hospital — backed down and let Cleveland Clinic proceed with its service changes at the hospital.

With the Clinic holding most of the leverage in the Huron Hospital tussle, expect the same thing to happen this time.