The Cleveland Clinic begins its affiliation with Medina Hospital in August 2009.
GAZETTE FILE Enlarge
After more than 70 years of providing birthing services to Medina County patients, Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital announced Thursday it will close that unit, effective July 1.
The decision means no medical institution in the county will offer infant delivery except emergency care.
Hospital President Tom Tulisiak told The Gazette that the decision was attributable to a “steady decline” in the number of women choosing Medina Hospital. He said more than 65 percent of women in Medina County seek birthing services outside the county.
“This was vetted thoroughly with numerous individuals looking at the service line and how women choose to seek their care for obstetrics,” Tulisiak said.
He added that the number of deliveries has dropped from 1,100 per year to 800 in the last five years.
“Women are choosing to receive their delivery care at facilities that have highest level of care including perinatology, high-risk obstetrics and higher level of neonatal intensive care,” Tulisiak said. “Those facilities are Fairview, Hillcrest and Akron General (in downtown Akron in Summit County). Therefore, we have decided to concentrate the delivery of babies to those hub hospitals.”
Fairview, in western Cuyahoga County, is located 26 miles from Medina Hospital.
Hillcrest is in the eastern Cuyahoga County suburb of Mayfield Heights, 40 miles away from Medina Hospital.
Akron General is 21 miles away in downtown Akron in Summit County.
Tulisiak said patients will be directed to those three Cleveland Clinic sites, but Medina Hospital will continue to provide care for women in pre- and post-delivery situations.
“I think anytime there’s a change, it’s difficult, Tulisiak said. “I expect we’ll probably hear some questions about it and people looking for more information.”
41 employees affected
He said 41 employees at Medina Hospital will be affected by the closing.
Tulisiak said the staffers affected may transfer to the units at Fairview, Hillcrest and Akron General or move into the general medical surgery unit at Medina Hospital.
He declined to disclose the financial savings the hospital would gain from the closing.
“This is not a financial decision,” he said. “This is a decision to be able to provide our women in the county with the highest levels of care for birthing services.”
Cleveland Clinic spokesman Joe Milicia told The Gazette that Medina Hospital’s Emergency Department will continue to have trained caregivers on site to handle emergency deliveries.
‘Out of the city’s control’
Jeff Felton, the director of the Medina County Job and Family Services agency, said he fears problems could arise now with no birth center remaining in the county.
“My hope is that it doesn’t lead to any significant increase in home births. I’m sure law enforcement and EMS hope that there won’t be an increase in people having to give birth en route to a hospital,” he said. “Also, I hope it doesn’t inadvertently increase costs if people show up too soon. I remember when my first child was born, like many people, we said, ‘Better safe than sorry,’ and made needless trips. I hope having to travel a longer way doesn’t change that calculus for too many people.”
Medina City Council President John Coyne said the announcement means a loss in health care opportunities in the city.
Summa Health’s Wadsworth Rittman center discontinued birth services in October 2009, sending patients instead to its Barberton facility.
So the Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital decision Thursday means the county will no longer have a birth center at any of its hospitals.
“It’s always disappointing to hear you’re losing a service that you have to offer to your community,” Coyne said. “Everyone has a choice where they would like to go and 65 percent of people didn’t go (to Medina Hospital) to begin with. That’s out of the city’s control. The 35 percent of people that do use it will be disappointed.”
Births since 1944
The 21,000 square-foot birth center opened with the hospital in 1944. It has 15 rooms.
Tulisiak said the center was last renovated in the late 1990s but has had frequent cosmetic updates.
The Cleveland Clinic begins its affiliation with Medina Hospital in August 2009 and the hospital has seen more than $80 million in renovations overall.
“It’s pretty amazing in terms of the financial commitment that Cleveland Clinic has made to Medina Hospital and will continue to do so,” Tulisiak said.
The future of the physical space occupied now by the birth center remains unknown. Milicia said the hospital is “looking at a variety of options to serve the Medina County community,” but specific ideas were not released.
New Medina upgrades
While Thursday’s decision is a cutback in services, Tulisiak said Medina Hospital has seen an increase in other medical and surgical services over the last seven years.
He said prior to 2009, 65 percent of people would seek health care services outside the county. However, 2016 figures showed that 65 to 70 percent are now receiving general medical and surgical care at Medina Hospital.
The hospital has seen a 35 percent increase in number of surgeries performed over last couple years, he added.
“People are satisfied with the care they’re receiving,” Tulisiak said. “We’ve brought in additional services specialists and subspecialists that were not available previously. The scores are soaring with great satisfaction to the highest quality care and patient safety they are receiving.”
But, he noted, birth care services have gone the other way.
“This is a trend across the country where moms are looking to have their deliveries where there’s the highest level of neonatal intensive care,” Tulisiak said.
For the year 2016, Medina Hospital was recognized as the No. 9 academic medical center nationwide and was the recipient of the Vizient Award, a medical industry honor given for quality.
“We’re obviously very proud of the care our caregivers provide throughout hospital and in the family birthing center,”Tulisiak said. “We have a dedicated staff that provides tremendous care every day.”
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or email@example.com.