St. Vincent Charity Medical Center pushes to close acute care wards as employees leave

St Vincent Charity Medical Center will close on Friday – four days earlier than planned, hospital officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

The hospital, located in Cleveland’s Central Ward, will halt inpatient care and emergency medical services ahead of schedule as many outgoing acute care and surgical staff found other jobs and left before the planned closure of the hospital, according to the statement.

“Our staffing level is reduced and will not allow us to operate as a safe inpatient hospital,” hospital management wrote. “Patient safety is our number one priority.”

On September 14, the Sisters of Charity health system, which runs St. Vincent’s Hospital, announced it would end inpatient services in 30 days, citing declining patient numbers and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the medical center will transition to an outpatient medical campus. It will continue to provide outpatient drug treatment and manage the psychiatric emergency department at Central’s facility, according to the hospital. The campus will also offer outpatient mental health services, primary care, internal and specialty medicine clinics, and emergency care.

Health staffing challenges hospital systems

The closure of St. Vincent meant that many of those employed at the hospital would soon be looking for work. Other hospital systems in the region, which are struggling to recruit in the wake of the pandemic, appear to have tried to capitalize on newly available healthcare workers.

In 2019, about 1,400 people were employed in St. Vincent, according to federal tax records. When the closures were initially announced, the hospital said it planned to keep around 100 caregivers on staff.

Shortly after St. Vincent’s closure announcement, MetroHealth, a Cuyahoga County-based hospital system, held several job fairs and officials expressed interest in hiring St. Vincent employees. . It also recently launched a new behavioral health hospital, which will open in phases based on hiring, the hospital system said.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals had many vacancies due to retirements and demand for more caregivers caused by increased coverage of services through the Affordable Care Act, according to the ‘Ohio Hospitals Association (OHA). During the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to fill vacancies as employees faced burnout and quit or left the field altogether, the group said.

Now, hospitals across the state are recruiting nurses, behavioral and mental health care providers, and advanced practitioners and physicians, the OHA said.

The shortage of health care workers has led to cuts in services. In contacting hospitals, the OHA said it found about 17%, or about 4,700 inpatient beds, had been taken out of service in Ohio due to labor issues.

St. Vincent is not the only hospital system to cut services, at least in part, due to a staff shortage. In August, University Hospitals halted inpatient, surgical and emergency services at their Bedford location in southeastern Cuyahoga County.

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