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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CUYAHOGA COUNTY HOSPITAL SYSTEM (CCHS) - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The CUYAHOGA COUNTY HOSPITAL SYSTEM (CCHS), recognized as the nation's first public hospital system, consisted in 1994 of the MetroHealth Medical Center, the MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation, the MetroHealth Center for Skilled Nursing Care, the MetroHealth Clement Center for Family Care, the MetroHealth West Park Medical Bldg., and the MetroHealth Downtown Center. In 1993 its MetroHealth Life Flight (est. 1982) was the nation's busiest emergency air transport system.

The Cuyahoga County Hospital System was officially organized by an agreement executed in December of 1957, after the electorate approved the transfer of the City Hospital of Cleveland to the county hospital board's authority in November of that same year. Appointed by the Board of County Commissioners, and the senior judges of the Probate and Common Pleas Courts, half of the board is to be Democratic and half Republican. The members serve six-year terms without compensation. Funds for rebuilding the system's physical plant came largely from capital-improvement levies in 1963, 1966, and 1971. Voters also approved operating levies. By the 1990s, CCHS had become the largest system of its kind in the state of Ohio (1,100 beds), offering tertiary, secondary, and primary care, extensive ancillary facilities, specialized services, and a teaching program in affiliation with CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. (CWRU).

In the early 1980s, the focus of the system's planning shifted from capital improvements to operational matters. At this time, the system maintained several community health programs, including Project GOH (Golden Age Outreach for Health), to improve neighborhood care of the elderly in the Fairfax area; the Maternity & Infant Care Project, offering no-charge maternity care and family planning in designated areas; the Women, Infants, & Children Program, a specialized supplemental food program; and a tuberculosis control program. The hospital system has served more Medicare, Medicaid, and county indigent patients than any other area hospital (see HOSPITALS & HEALTH PLANNING).

The oldest and largest component of the CCHS is Cleveland Metro General Hospital. Until the 1950s it operated as the City Hospital of Cleveland (est. 1837), a municipal institution for healing the sick; the need for such a facility originated from a CHOLERA EPIDEMIC OF 1832 in 1832. Management was under the control of the CLEVELAND BOARD OF HEALTH, the mayor, and 3 members of CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL. Located on E. 14th St., within a few years it disintegrated into an almshouse for the infirm, poor, and insane. Reorganization of the City Hospital culminated in the construction of a new facility on Scranton Rd. in 1889. Within a few years, the hospital had a medical staff of 28 doctors and a training school for nurses. In 1903 a tuberculosis sanatorium was set up, the first of its kind in the U.S. City Hospital also, continued to care for the insane until 1909, when emphasis shifted to its function as a general hospital.

The hospital saw its greatest development in the 1920s, with new construction under city welfare director DUDLEY S. BLOSSOM†. The new complex, at the Scranton Rd. site, consisted of 16 buildings on 28 acres; by 1932, it was the nation's 6th-largest general hospital and one of its best municipal hospitals. In 1930 55% of its costs were paid by the city, and 45% by the county. By the early 1930s, despite a good medical staff, the hospital was consistently criticized for inefficiency. To reduce political interference, a Citizen's Advisory Committee was appointed in 1934. However, the hospital suffered from operational problems through the 1940s. Studies done in the 1950s showed a lack of facilities, equipment, and funds, and poor administration. In 1958 the electorate of Cuyahoga County voted to turn the hospital over to the authority of the Cuyahoga County commissioners. It was renamed Cleveland Metro General Hospital. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Metro General, a public hospital, continued to admit all patients in need of care, regardless of financial ability. Between 1962-72, $40 million was spent on expansion, including a 12-story, twin-tower structure with 558 beds (1973). Over the next 10 years, the hospital increased its out-patient clinics and developed specialized acute-care services, the best-known of which was the burn center. In 1979 27% of Cleveland Metro General's patients were from the SUBURBS, 9% from outside Cuyahoga County, and 64% from Cleveland.

Highland View Hospital, one of the country's leading facilities of its type, specialized in treating and rehabilitating the chronically crippled, victims of strokes, and those afflicted with neuromuscular diseases. It opened in Warrensville Twp. in 1953, initiated by a hospital building commission appointed by the county to treat the chronically ill. Initially designated as Cuyahoga County Hospital, the name Highland View was used to sound more like a private hospital. Since it opened, the hospital has been affiliated with CWRU's medical school. Throughout most of the 1950s, many of the hospital's 445 beds were vacant because of a staff shortage. As a public hospital, Highland View mainly treated indigent patients, although the number of self-pay patients increased in the 1960s. The average stay was 67 days; no patients were accepted for permanent placement. All patients suffered from chronic illnesses other than tuberculosis, mental illness, or alcoholism.

In 1971 the electorate approved the consolidation of county medical facilities. Plans were made to relocate Highland View's services to the Metro General Hospital site, not only to improve finances but also Highland View's occupancy rate. Because of strong opposition, the move did not occur until 1980. Highland View continued as a general hospital for the care and rehabilitation of patients with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, stroke, spinal-cord injury, and cardiac and neuromuscular diseases, as well as temporary injury.

Sunny Acres is a long-term-care unit in the Cuyahoga County Hospital System, a 320-bed skilled-nursing facility in Warrensville Twp., opened in 1906. It was conceived to care for tubercular patients by HARRIS R. COOLEY†, director of charities for the City of Cleveland. During its first few years, it operated as a 60-bed tuberculosis hospital in a house on Richmond Rd. A new facility with 238 beds--known as the Warrensville Sanatorium--was completed near the original site in 1913. In 1931 the sanatorium expanded to accommodate 430; the staff increased to 210. The city transferred ownership to Cuyahoga County in 1942, and the name changed to Sunny Acres Tuberculosis Hospital. Ten years later, a new building, financed through a $4.9 million bond issue, opened, increasing capacity to 500 beds. By the late 1950s, the area's TB-patient census had declined dramatically, and in 1961 the Board of County Commissioners approved a 10-year program to transform the hospital into one specializing in the care of the chronically ill. An extended-care unit opened in 1966; many of the older buildings were demolished. Treatment of Sunny Acres' former TB patients was transferred to Metro General Hospital or to out-patient services at the county's tuberculosis clinic. Since the merger of Sunny Acres into the CCHS (1972), most patients have come through referrals from Metro General/Highland View Hospital. As a 320-bed skilled-nursing facility, it has treated mostly victims of stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, mental disorders, cancer, and spinal-cord injuries.

The Kenneth W. Clement Center offers specialized medical diagnoses and treatment to families living in 5 of Cleveland's poorer areas and coordinates efforts of other area health providers and resources to implement community programs. The center was named for Dr. KENNETH W. CLEMENT†, a CCHS trustee for 6 years, and vice-chair of the board at his death. The Clement Center opened on E. 79th St. in March 1976. Although open to all county residents, its primary purpose was to serve 5 social-planning areas, with a combined population of 85,000: Central, Central East, Central West, Kinsman, and Woodland Hills, all designated by the METROPOLITAN HEALTH PLANNING CORP. and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources as medically underserved. The clinic directs its programs toward the psychosocial as well as the medical aspects of health care, with special emphasis on disease prevention and health maintenance. From the beginning, its services have been linked to Metro General Hospital. In addition to county funds, the center, until 1981, received support from the CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION, which also assisted in recruiting staff.

The Chronic Illness Center assisted the elderly and chronically ill of Cuyahoga County until it, closed in the early 1990s. It developed from an information, screening, and placement center founded in 1954 and sponsored by the Welfare Federation until 1961, when it became part of the Cuyahoga County Hospital System. The public-service program was developed by Dr. Joseph B. Stoklen, Cuyahoga County chronic-illness coordinator. Located on E. 55th St., the center received funding from the county health board to serve its clientele, usually older persons with chronic medical conditions complicated by other problems.

MetroGeneral began its Metro Life Flight helicopter rescue and transport service in 1982 with one helicopter and no heliopad; the service transported 15 patients the first month. By 1992, with 3 helicopters and 18 pilots, the service had flown a total of 15,000 patients, almost 3,000 in 1991 alone.

MetroGeneral Hospital acquired BOOTH MEMORIAL HOSPITAL in 1987 and operated it as a part of its Maternity and Infant Care Project until closing the facility in 1992. In 1989 MetroGeneral Hospital became MetroHealth Medical Center and its associated institutions became part of the MetroHealth System. Two years later, SAINT LUKES MEDICAL CENTER affiliated with MetroHealth, and was known as MetroHealth St. Luke's Medical Center until the corporate offices of the system dissolved in 1993. At this time, St. Luke's dropped MetroHealth from its title. In 1994 the Cuyahoga County Hospital System components were: MetroHealth Clement Center for Family Care, MetroHealth Center for Skilled Nursing Care (on Richmond Rd.), and MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation. In addition, offices opened downtown and in the SUBURBS: the MetroHealth Downtown Center (at 668 EUCLID AVE..), the MetroHealth West Park Medical Bldg., and the MetroHealth Brooklyn Medical Bldg.

See also MEDICINE.

Last Modified: 15 Jul 1997 02:25:58 PM

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