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Ideastream Public Media investigates how racism contributes to poor health outcomes in the Cleveland area and uncovers what local institutions are doing to tear down the structural barriers to good health.

St. Vincent Charity Hospital to end inpatient and ER services in Cleveland

St Vincent Charity Health Campus future vision.png
Sisters of Charity Health System
St. Vincent Charity Medical Center announced it will cease to provide emergency and inpatient services on Nov. 15. The hospital, founded in 1865, is making the change due to seismic shifts in health care over the last decade which have created a challenging environment, officials said.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center officials announced Wednesday the hospital will discontinue inpatient and emergency room services in November.

"Seismic shifts in health care over the last decade have created a challenging environment for St. Vincent Charity Medical Center to continue as a traditional acute care hospital," officials said in a media release.

St. Vincent, located at 2351 E 22nd St., is known for providing care to low-income residents and for its mental health and substance abuse programs. The hospital's psychiatric ER is one of the key resources in the city for people suffering from mental health emergencies.

Emergency department and inpatient services will end on Nov. 15, the release said. After that, the medical center will provide ambulatory care in the form of outpatient mental health services, addiction medicine services, primary care, internal medicine and specialty clinics and urgent care.

This transition puts the hospital on a financially sustainable path forward despite the rapid, significant and ongoing changes in health care today,” said Dr. Janice G. Murphy, president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System, who added that St. Vincent caregivers served patients and with courage and grace throughout the pandemic.

Demand for outpatient care, declining inpatient volume and the growth of telehealth placed financial pressure on the hospital, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the release said.

Federal tax documents show that the hospital system operated at a loss each year from 2017 to 2019 — before the pandemic arrived in 2020.

St. Vincent is located in Cleveland's Central neighborhood. Nearly 90% of the residents are Black and about 70% live in poverty, according to figures from the Center for Community Solutions. The area scores high on a social vulnerability index, according to the University of Richmond. That means it's more difficult for residents to recover from human and natural disasters.

On Wednesday, Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin and Ward 5 Councilman Richard Starr, who represent Central, said they were disappointed by the decision.

"The Sisters of Charity’s decision to end emergency and inpatient services will have an immediate and drastic impact on the health of Central and Ward 5, predominantly African American communities," the councilmen wrote in a media release. "The two zip codes surrounding St. Vincent Charity — zip codes 44103 and 44115 — have the lowest life expectancies of any zip code in Cleveland."

The councilmen also expressed concern for the people who work at the hospital.

The medical center will retain approximately 100 caregivers, including clinical and non-clinical staff, according to the hospital media release. In 2019, the system employed 1,442 people, tax records show.

St. Vincent's announcement comes on the heels of another hospital closure. In August, University Hospitals discontinued inpatient, surgical and emergency services at their Bedford location.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge has pressed pause in a court case between University Hospitals and the city of Bedford sparked by the hospital system's decision to cut emergency and other services at UH Bedford.

City leaders there have vowed to fight the closures, but services there were cut in August.

Stephanie is the digital producer/editor of Ideastream Public Media’s health team.