Efforts continue to prevent closing of Huron trauma center

Last October it was announced that Cleveland Clinic would be closing the Level II trauma center at Huron Hospital, and trauma cases would be moved to a new facility at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights. This announcement came as a shock to many East Cleveland residents who view the trauma center as an important part of their community and its health and safety. The closing of the trauma center will have an effect on many other suburbs, including Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

At the time, the mayors of Cleveland and East Cleveland filed a lawsuit to keep the trauma center open. Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley stated, “Cleveland Heights is opposed to the closing of the trauma center and we were prepared to join in the lawsuit.” However, the suit was dropped before Cleveland Heights could officially lend its support. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge met with Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove and other stakeholders on Nov. 1. At that meeting, an agreement was reached to keep the trauma center open for 90 days, while the Clinic agreed to further examine the impact that closing the Huron Hospital trauma center would have on emergency first-responders and on MetroHealth Medical Center.

Those 90 days have passed, and it is uncertain how long the trauma center will remain open.

Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope (NOAH) and others have made efforts to organize the citizens in East Cleveland to fight to keep the Huron Hospital trauma center open, and has held a series of community meetings (the most recent one was on Feb. 28).

At the NOAH meeting on Feb. 7, East Cleveland City Councilwoman Mildred Brewer expressed concern that they had not organized enough people, especially those outside of East Cleveland, to conduct a successful protest. She mentioned Cleveland Heights in particular as a community that would be affected and needed to be included in the efforts to negotiate with the Cleveland Clinic.

Two major points were raised by East Cleveland residents during that meeting. One was that East Cleveland has a high rate of traumas compared to the rest of Northeast Ohio. The second is that moving Level II trauma cases to Hillcrest would lengthen ambulance response time throughout the area. Cleveland Clinic officials have commented that even without the trauma center, the Huron Hospital emergency room will remain open, and that there are 17 emergency departments in greater Cleveland that can stabilize patients.

Around 60 people attended a Feb. 14 rally held by NOAH and Black on Black Crime Inc., including representatives from Senator Sherrod Brown’s office, County Council Representative Julian Rogers, and Mike Smedley of the East Cleveland mayor’s office. East Cleveland resident Hazel Hicks said of the rally, “We accomplished our main goal. We want to keep the focus and attention in the public eye, so they know what’s going on with Huron Hospital.”

The Clinic continues to say that the trauma center will eventually close, perhaps soon.

Marissa Williams is a graduate student at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and an intern at FutureHeights.

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Volume 4, Issue 3, Posted 11:24 PM, 02.21.2011