MEDINA — The Cleveland Clinic weathered some backlash when it closed the maternity unit at the Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital nearly two years ago, but with new advances, upgrades and $126 million in capital improvements in the last 10 years, hospital leaders said Friday that they’re seeing more patients.
Dr. Richard Shewbridge, president of Medina Hospital, said the facility has experienced an 8 percent growth in patients in the last three years. The trick has been to draw patients in the region that would typically seek out other facilities first.
“What we’ve been doing is working with our surrounding hospitals — Lodi, Akron General, Cleveland Clinic Emergency Room in Brunswick — and trying to get as many of those patients as we can from those areas as possible,” he said.
Dr. Matt Vrobel, head of emergency services, has led the effort to improve the number of transfers from the Bath Emergency Room at state Route 18 and Interstate 77.
“Those patients would commonly wait to get into Akron General, whose emergency room is pretty full,” Shewbridge said. “We wanted to make ourselves available to accept those patients.”
Medina Hospital has worked to get the word out that it’s there and readily available.
“Some folks didn’t know there was a hospital here,” he said.
Vrobel said it’s about a wash as far as the distance from the Bath facility to Medina Hospital or Akron General.
“We made it known to the patients, doctors and staff what services we have at Medina,” he said. “It’s pretty comparable to what Akron General can provide.”
Akron General joined forces with Cleveland Clinic in 2014. It’s been 10 years since the Cleveland health giant acquired Medina Hospital. Both hospitals share medical records.
The amount of transfer patients from Bath were well below 100 a few years ago. It climbed to about 200 last year.
Vrobel said Medina Hospital is expecting about 400 transfer patients this year.
“In the past, we’d only get a handful,” he said. “Those are patients who don’t normally come here. Before we were in alignment with the hospitals, the Lodi patients would go to Akron. They come here because they like to stay within the county.”
Shewbridge said the transfer patients who have come to the facility have indicated they’ve been highly satisfied with the services.
“They really like it,” he said. “We’ve had some patients that come back as repeat customers.”
Shewbridge said reaching out to other members of the Cleveland Clinic family made a big difference in attracting patients.
“We worked with the providers down the road to let them know we’re a great option for patients that need to be hospitalized,” he said. “Before this program, they weren’t thinking of Medina Hospital. They were thinking since they were part of Akron General, they would send all their patients there. Now, we’re letting them know because we’re all part of the Cleveland Clinic, there’s another option right up the street.”
Vrobel said Medina Hospital’s emergency room saw 25,000 patients last year.
As far as hospital admissions and outpatient observations, there were 9,567 patients in 2018, an increase from 2017’s 9,261 and 2016’s 8,823.
“Just reaching out and making those connections is what’s making the transfers to Medina Hospital increase over the last couple of years,” Shewbridge said.
Vrobel said the hospital is able to accommodate the added patients and still “give them the same quality of care.”
The $126 million in capital improvements are sometimes overlooked in Medina County, Shewbridge said.
“That’s a substantial capital investment,” he said.
Cleveland Clinic opened its newly renovated 15-bed
medical-surgical unit in October. Designed to serve patients who are acutely ill or recovering from surgery, it is in the former birthing unit that closed in June 2017.
Among other improvements were an update to the computer system, which allowed it to link medical records electronically, and renovations to the intensive care unit and emergency room. There are 12 rooms in the intensive care unit and 19 in the ER.
Shewbridge said a catheter lab and renovations to two operating rooms are next on the horizon at the hospital that employs 750; another 200 people are employed in the medical office building next door.
The president of the hospital said an eHospital initiative that installed cameras in all the ICU rooms gives doctors in Cleveland access to Medina patients.
“At night, each room has a camera in it and doctors that are stationed at the main campus can monitor our ICU patients,” Shewbridge said. “This is done at many different Cleveland Clinic hospitals. It’s been quite an innovation. Those nurses and nurse practitioners there can talk to our nurses if they notice something on the camera.
“That’s part of our standard work now. The nurses really like it. It’s extremely sophisticated.”
There also are lifts in two or three of the ICU rooms that can carry patients to the restroom. The Medina Hospital Foundation donated the lifts.
There are three hospital systems in a mile stretch of Medina Road, which includes Summa Health System and University Hospitals. MetroHealth also has opened a walk-in office on West Reagan Parkway in Medina. It is the first MetroHealth facility in Medina to open since a law change allowed the health care provider to expand outside Cuyahoga County. The change was partly pushed by efforts by elected leaders like Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who wants MetroHealth to fill the maternity void he believes Cleveland Clinic created in Medina.
“We have a lot of competition on Route 18,” Shewbridge said. “We’re used to that. We have the other two health systems right down the street. We have to be sharp here to keep the patients coming.
“We call it the Medical Mile.”
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