Cleveland Clinic decision to close trauma unit triggers protests

Cleveland Clinic's announcement last Friday that it would cut trauma services at Huron Hospital and consolidate trauma care at Hillcrest Hospital Level II Trauma Center in early 2011 has triggered a community uproar. The Cleveland mayor and Cleveland EMS commissioner claimed on Monday that the plan to move East Side trauma cases from Huron in East Cleveland to Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights or MetroHealth Medical Center will result in longer transport times, and worse patient outcomes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Cleveland City Council members have threatened to hold up zoning and other variances the Clinic needs passed in order to proceed with building projects. One councilman said that they wanted to make the Clinic realize that "they have to commit to urban healthcare."

Community activists and former patients say the proximity to their neighborhoods spells the difference between life and death, WKYC reports.

According to a Cleveland Clinic press release issued on Oct. 14, the change has been under discussion for months and is part of the hospital's ongoing strategy to respond to the needs of the region and patients while remaining committed to its mission of providing the highest quality, cost effective care.

In response to criticism, the Clinic issued a statement that attributes the decision to consolidate trauma services to the ability to generate higher quality from higher volume and concentrated expertise, according to Fox 8. What's more, it has been hard for the hospital to lure enough surgeons to Huron for 24-hour coverage. Huron's ED will stay open, and two larger EDs within 3 miles of Huron Hospital can treat patients, or, if necessary, stabilize transfers.

An editorial in yesterday's Cleveland Plain Dealer noted that the Clinic could have spared itself some criticism by better explaining to the community the few things that are changing and the many that will stay the same, plus the larger effort to offer good emergency coverage to all residents of Greater Cleveland.

To learn more:
- read the Cleveland Clinic press release
- read the Fox 8 story
- read the WKYC story
- here's a Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial and story