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Oak Street Health, an encompassing approach to healthcare for medicare patients, is opening in Cleveland

Posted at 10:30 AM, Apr 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-25 10:30:48-04

CLEVELAND — A new type of health care facility is opening in Cleveland and it's targeting patients on Medicare. Oak Street Health is situated in areas that are easily accessible to seniors.

Denise Dalton wasn't about to change her doctor on a whim, even after she found Oak Street Health.

She came to an open house soon after Oak Street opened in September 2018 on Lorain Avenue.

"I take my time and I did, but they were always friendly to me," said Dalton.

Dalton works in a book of crossword puzzles she brings to the Oak Street Health Westown's Community Room, even when she doesn't have an appointment.

Friendly, while creating a doctor's office environment unlike one Dalton had ever visited before. A few months later, she switched her care to Oak Street.

"I come in at least a couple days a week," said Dalton.

Sometimes Dalton has an appointment but most of the time she doesn't.

The Oak Street Health Community Room keeps Dalton and other patients coming back with regularly scheduled lunches, bingo, and other events.

A cork board lists events for the Westown Community Room in English and Spanish, helping the area's Latino population.

When doctors are caring for patients, who are all on medicare, they do it with a large health team, seeing patients more often than other doctors might, while medical social workers help patients make sure they get the most from their healthcare coverage.

"It was really a whole new take on rebuilding healthcare as it should be," said Oak Street Health Regional Vice President Marcus Moreno. "A doctor's office can often be intimidating and so when you've got a community space, we can focus on that aspect, you don't just have to focus on your doctor's visit."

Oak Street Health opened its third location in the last six months in northeast Ohio at the corner of Lee Road and Harvard Avenue.

Oak Street Health's three greater Cleveland locations are now:

  • Glenville—10553 St. Clair Avenue
  • Lee Harvard—16888 Harvard Avenue
  • Westown—10688 Lorain Avenue

Moreno says they target communities that don't have easy access to healthcare and came to Cleveland because it's getting older.

"More than 20% of your adults are older than 60 and another 15 percent are between 50 and 60," said Moreno.

Oak Street Health is also making it easier to get to their locations, running their own shuttle service, opening near large parking lots and RTA lines.

Oak Street Health's Westown location on Lorain Road, in the back of an outdoor mall.

The staff at the Westown Location, in a community where there's a large Latino population, is bilingual.

A step like that makes all the difference to patients like Carlos Colon Ingles.

"They're sweet and they take their time explaining your situation and your health issues," said Ingles' girlfriend Merida Cruz, translating for Ingles.

Ingles and Cruz sit in the Community Room at the Westown location.

All that work makes it much easier for doctors to give patients preventative care before their conditions get too serious, helping them avoid more expensive care down the road.

"Our patients are 40% less likely to land in a hospital compared to your average patient," said Moreno.

Moves like that are good for Dalton's health, but it's the whole package that keeps her coming back.

"I said, 'Oh my God, this is the place I've been looking for my whole senior-citizen life," said Dalton.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.