Lost Hospital: Huron Hospital, East Cleveland, Ohio0

The 20-bed Lake Street Hospital in Cleveland, later known as the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital, opened in 1856. In the early 1870s, physicians from the Homeopathic Hospital purchased the Humiston Institute building for $35,000, and subsequently opened the Cleveland Protestant Homeopathic Hospital or Huron Road Hospital. Also known as the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital College, this 50-bed institution soon became a pillar in Cleveland’s health care system.

In 1884 the Cleveland Training School for Nurses opened. This accomplishment, however, was clouded by 32 years of disputes between the hospital and the homeopaths, including a nursing strike in 1908 as well as litigation designed to keep allopathic doctors out of the hospital. Closed at times for repairs and other times due to these disputes, in 1924 the hospital was sold and renamed Meridia Huron Hospital.

In 1935 the hospital moved to part of the former John D. Rockefeller estate in East Cleveland. Over the years, the hospital flourished and in 1984 became the original institution of the Meridia Health System (which merged in 1997 with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation). Huron Hospital’s legacy will end in 2011 due to finances.

In June 2011 the Cleveland Clinic announced Huron Hospital would close and cease treating the patients in East Cleveland. East Cleveland’s Mayor Gary Norton tried to stop the closure, hoping to prevent what just about any big-city mayor fears when a hospital closes.  Norton explained: “The community is often left with a vacant building that grows high weeds, has windows broken out and a source of revenue that is just lost.  But by working together we wanted to show that if we work in a new way, doing something different and talking instead of pointing fingers at each other, that we might be able to accomplish something that mitigates the loss.”

When Huron Hospital closes, the Cleveland Clinic contends it will find another viable use for the building, or instead pay the estimated $10-$15 million cost to demolish and clear the structure.  This transition, however, has placed East Cleveland and Cleveland at odds as Cleveland leaders argue the hospital’s closure will compromise the City’s emergency services network.

EMS Commissioner Edward Eckhart noted: “The result of the loss of trauma service at Huron and the resulting closure of Huron has resulted in increased EMS response times to all 911 calls, to every neighborhood in the City of Cleveland; it’s resulted in fire first responder units being tied up in excess of 30 to 45 minutes throughout the city while they are waiting for EMS ambulances to arrive to transport patients.”

Robert Triozzi of the Cleveland Clinic has tried to spin the hospital’s closure as a difficult but necessary decision that will not impact health care in the community:

“We recently made the difficult decision to close Huron Hospital within 90 days. Outpatient care will continue to be provided at Huron Hospital until the new Cleveland Clinic Huron Community Health Center opens on October 3, 2011. In light of this decision, it’s important for you to know that our commitment to East Cleveland and the surrounding communities remains strong. [¶] We did not come to this decision lightly. Over the years we have experienced a steady decline in patients using Huron Hospital, a rapidly shrinking population, costly maintenance of the hospital’s aging facilities, as well as a dramatic shift in the way healthcare is delivered.”

When the hospital closes in October 2011, the new Cleveland Clinic Huron Community Health Center will attempt to provide the necessary health care in East Cleveland. Even though the new clinic is expected to provide state-of-the-art outpatient care (including primary coverage, care for women and children, and services focusing on mental health), the community will still lose a hospital and its 155 years of history.


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