MEDINA –– The ceremonial ribbon was cut Friday on the first MetroHealth facility in Medina to open since a law changed to allow the health care provider to expand outside Cuyahoga County.
The journey behind the Cleveland-based institution’s added presence in Medina started in early 2017 when the Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital closed its maternity ward.
And, while the 5,000-square-foot MetroHealth Medina Health Center at 111 W. Reagan Parkway is a primary care facility — laboring mothers will not give birth there — Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said Friday he welcomes it and MetroHealth to Medina with hopes of more services to come.
“My biggest fear came true when I read, I don’t know how long it’s been, six or eight months ago, a husband and wife were travelling a distance away to one of these hospitals and she delivered a baby in the front seat,” Hanwell said. “That was exactly the situation I was concerned with.”
Hanwell was referring to Medina resident Heather Jontony, who in October gave birth in the car while her husband, Hank, attempted to drive to the Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital where she was supposed to deliver. It is a story that Hanwell said illustrates exactly why almost immediately after the maternity ward closed its doors he started the process of looking for an entity to fill that need in Medina.
“The state representatives and myself met with a number of health care facilities, including the Clinic, to try and change their thinking on that to no avail,” Hanwell said.
Conversations also included talks with MetroHealth, which said it would investigate coming to Medina if it could get past legislation prohibiting them from leaving Cuyahoga County. Hanwell didn’t take take as a no.
With the help of MetroHealth officials, local politicians and state representatives, House Bill 111, which allowed MetroHealth to expand its services to Medina, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Portage, Stark and Summit and Wayne counties, passed in the fall.
By Dec. 10, the MetroHealth Medina Health Center opened its doors.
“I’m ecstatic,” MetroHealth provider Anthony Petruzzi said. “I’ve lived here about 25 years now and this is the first time that I, other than coaching the swim team, that I’ve actually had my practice here. It’s pretty much a dream come true that I am able to give back to the community”
The health center is MetroHealth’s second location in Medina County. The Brunswick Health Center, 1299 Industrial Parkway North, Suite 250, opened in 2015 and offers primary care, dermatology and treatment for melanoma and other skin cancers.
It is not known if other facilities are in Medina County’s future. MetroHealth as previous said, it will “continue to evaluate the market needs and where MetroHealth can best support the community.”
Still, Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and state Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, shared in Hanwell’s excitement Friday.
“I think this is how government is supposed to work,” Obhof said.
“We had a significant local problem related to some services no longer being available in our community for people of the area. We had frequent contact with the mayor who looked out for this area in a way that a lot of local officials look out for their home town.”