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Neighbors, city leaders worry about how St. Vincent service cuts could affect low-income Clevelanders

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Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 19:31:25-04

CLEVELAND — St. Vincent Charity Hospital’s decision to stop emergency and inpatient services in the coming weeks was met by concern from neighbors and Cleveland leaders Wednesday.

RELATED: St. Vincent Charity Hospital to end inpatient care, shift focus to holistic health, wellness

The health care system announced plans to transform its East 22nd Street campus into a wellness hub focused on holistic care.

“This hospital has been responsible for the care of many people, especially ones that are living in poverty or low-income communities,” said Mary Prim.

She told News 5 that her brother recently received a blood transfusion at the hospital and the care he received was expert and compassionate. She now worries about inpatient and emergency services being less accessible for people who live nearby.

“You also hate to see something that has been so giving to the community for so long leave,” she said.

John Mytrysak, who lives in an adjacent senior housing complex, said many of the seniors there rely on care being so close.

“I think it’s pretty important,” he said. “They’re supposed to be the downtown hospital and now they’re not going to be for emergencies or inpatient.”

St. Vincent Charity Hospital, which started in 1865, has served generations in and around what is now Cleveland’s Fifth Ward.

“This is a huge blow to the city of Cleveland,” said Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin.

He explained the neighborhood where St. Vincent is located is predominantly African-American and low-income. The two zip codes surrounding the hospital currently have the city’s lowest life expectancies. He worries eliminating services there will compound issues in an already underserved segment of the population.

“That’s why it’s so frustrating and why it’s so disappointing,” he said.

Ward 5 City Councilman Richard Starr added in a statement, “The Sisters of Charity’s impact on Central is immeasurable. We have taken pride in knowing we have a premier medical facility in our neighborhood to address the many healthcare needs of our residents.’

Both council members said in addition to health outcomes, they’re also concerned about hundreds of jobs leaving the area.

Griffin said, “I’m really disappointed and frustrated that we have so many institutions like this that are leaving the inner city. At some point in time, we have to make sure that we have a model of people that want to do business and want to stay here in the city of Cleveland.”

Griffin and Prim also pointed to other Cleveland hospitals that made similar moves to consolidate services and ultimately closed completely.

“This has always been the first step, that hasn’t always worked or been sustainable,” Griffin said, comparing the change to St. Luke’s Hospital in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, which fully closed in 1999.

Prim recalled St. Michael Hospital closing its doors in 2003. She believes the closure contributed to a decline in the neighborhood.

“A lot of people started leaving the community and it just started going down and down and down from there,” she said.

Council President Griffin and Ward 5 Councilman Starr plan to meet with hospital leadership on Thursday to discuss how to continue serving the community surrounding St. Vincent Charity Hospital.

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