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East Cleveland: Residents adjust to loss of hospital

9:24 PM, Aug 16, 2013   |    comments
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EAST CLEVELAND -- October will mark the two-year anniversary of a big shift in this struggling community's health care.

The Cleveland Clinic closed and demolished the old Huron Road Hospital and Emergency Room.

It was an emotional change, producing anger and fear in the community.

Acute asthma sufferer Frances Roe says she was a frequent user of the emergency room for serious asthma attacks and now must go further to get help.

"For them to have taken the hospital down doesn't make any sense whatsoever," she said. "(I get mad) every day I walk by there. It doesn't make sense."

And the city's paramedics and firefighters had concerns, too.

Chief Douglas Zook said, "We were most worried about transporting, whether the next closest hospital, University, could handle the increase."

The new Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center is more about patient education and treatment of chronic diseases than treating urban traumatic events.

It sees an average 3,600 patients per month.

Medical Director Dr. Nana Kobaivanova says, "Our goal is to equip patients with support they need to take care of their chronic diseases ... such as high blood pressure, kidney diseases and preventive wellness."

The center offers to-and-from transportation and rides to other Cleveland Clinic centers and hospitals.

Longtime East Cleveland resident Christine Jeter is a big center booster, saying, "Everything is right here and you have the transportation to get here. ... This is a one-stop place. You can get your feet looked at your eyes looked at. This is wonderful and a big improvement from the hospital."

As far as ambulance crew worries, Chief Zook said, "My fears have just not been realized."

He claims he is not aware of a single instance where a longer ambulance ride to another emergency room like University's or MetroHealth's has been a life-or-death or seriously damaging situation.

East Cleveland got $20 million of cash and services to compensate the city for job loss and to prevent a possible lawsuit.

Some in the budget-crunched city now want a specific accounting of where that money went.

Mayor Gary Norton says it all went into the general fund.

The center also draws residents from other surrounding communities.

But many in East Cleveland have more involvement with the new center than the old hospital and believe it will mean overall improvement in the city's health care.

Read more from our weeklong series about East Cleveland:

East Cleveland copes with police layoffs

Dangers for children walking to school in East Cleveland

East Cleveland employees caught in budget battle

East Cleveland residents adjust to loss of hospital

Despite problems, some see a brighter future for East Cleveland

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