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Staffing Issues Cause UH to Realign Services

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and a national shortage of nurses, support staff and other caregivers, University Hospitals continued to deliver quality care for all patients by reassigning staff to where they were needed most. Many caregivers at UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers have already transitioned to support other UH hospitals with higher patient volumes.

While the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has declined, UH continues to be impacted by the national shortage of health care workers.

UH has more unfilled positions than at any time in its history, and available health care workers remain scarce. The system remains committed to providing safe, high-quality, compassionate care for all patients.

To address the staffing challenges, UH conducted an analysis of its service model, facilities, resources and community health care needs. These efforts included the engagement of an independent advisory firm.

To optimize limited resources, UH has reached the decision to consolidate inpatient, surgical and emergency department services in its East Market to facilities at UH Ahuja, Geauga, Lake West, TriPoint, Beachwood, Geneva and Conneaut medical centers.

UH will move its inpatient, surgical and emergency services at UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers, effective Aug 12. However, local physician services provided at the campuses will continue. The Behavioral Health unit at UH Richmond will continue to operate at this location.

Emergency Department services will shift from UH Bedford and UH Richmond campuses to nearby facilities at UH Ahuja (6.2 miles) and UH Lake West (6.1 miles), respectively. Inpatient services will be available at UH Ahuja, UH Lake West, UH TriPoint and UH Geauga medical centers.

Caregivers at UH Bedford and UH Richmond will have the option to transfer to locations within the UH system. UH will be working with them about their career path options as details and timing evolve.

UH will also invest in new wellness programs and services at the UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical center campuses to serve these and surrounding communities based on community needs identified through consultation with local leaders and analysis of the health demographics specific to the communities. New UH services will include programs for wellness and safety, maternal and child health, food security, and workforce development.

In addition, UH will work with the mayors of both Bedford and Richmond Heights to determine the best uses for these sites in the future.

“A national workforce shortage has created unprecedented challenges for our health system. Although the decision to consolidate was difficult, it was necessary,” said Paul Hinchey, MD, MBA, UH Interim Chief Operating Officer and President, UH Community Delivery Network. “Our hospitals in Bedford and Richmond Heights are among the smallest and least utilized within UH. Consolidating services to nearby locations enables us to staff more efficiently during this critical time.

“Our patients and our health system need our caregivers. We hope that they will choose to continue their careers with UH. We thank all of our caregivers for their flexibility throughout these challenging times. We will continue our efforts to attract talent to our organization by striving to be Northeast Ohio’s first and most trusted career choice in health care,” said Hinchey.

“We are committed to our patients in Bedford and Richmond Heights. Through the consolidation of services, we are moving to assure that UH patients, wherever they are, always have access to the care they need and trust, now and in the future,” he said.

Cliff Megerian, MD, FACS, UH Chief Executive Officer, Jane and Henry Meyer Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair, addressed the community and UH caregivers in a video posted online. In the video he said, “We arrived at the decision to discontinue inpatient care at UH Bedford and Richmond medical centers after a lot of careful thought. We appreciate what a hospital and the long legacy of care delivered at these facilities means to the community.

“I’m sure, however, that these decisions are the right ones for all of our patients, and that our patients in Bedford and Richmond Heights will be well-served by the investments we will be making in wellness programs and services designed specifically for them.”

UH Bedford Medical Center, 44 Blaine Ave., officially opened in 1928 as Bedford Municipal Hospital. In 1979 the name was changed to The Community Hospital of Bedford, which UH purchased in 1993.

UH Richmond Medical Center, 27100 Chardon Rd., has been serving the residents of Lake and eastern Cuyahoga counties since 1961.

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