Letter from Councilman Polensek: Help change the decision to close Huron Road Hospital Trauma Center

I am sure you have heard by now that the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare System plans to relocate its Trauma Center from Huron Road Hospital in East Cleveland to Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, a Level II Trauma Center.  This news comes as a great shock to Cleveland City Officials, who were never notified, along with our suburban neighbors of this proposed change in trauma care. 

Of great concern is the fact that, if someone is seriously injured in the Collinwood area they would currently be transported to Huron Road Hospital, about 6 miles away in about 10 minutes or less. If Cleveland Clinic goes ahead with their plans, and even though an emergency room will remain at Huron Hospital, trauma patients from the 11th Ward would have to be transported to MetroHealth Medical Center on West 25th Street, according to Safety Director, Mr. Martin Flask. This distance is approximately 14 miles and would take at least 25 minutes in good weather and no traffic to reach Metro. When you add the fact that Cleveland EMS is now operating with only 15 ambulances and the response time at present is around 13 minutes, it should tell all of us on the northeast side that it would take well over a half hour before a patient could be triaged and rolled into the Level 1 Trauma Unit at Metro Hospital; not to speak of the time spent on scene stabilizing the patient.

All of us are proud of the fact that the Cleveland Clinic HealthCare System is a world class institution. We have witnessed their expansion, not only at the main campus but around the country and the world.  In fact, we all know they are a medical destination point for celebrities and international royalty, alike. That being said, for them to cut this vital service at Huron Road Hospital, for moderate, low income and working families from the eastside, I find troubling and, quite frankly, insulting. 

In all my years at Cleveland City Council, every time Cleveland Clinic needed help with permits, street vacations, building permits, roadway improvements, water / sewer hookups, Zoning, and land acquisition, etc., we were there to assist them. I am not aware of any time that the City ever turned down the Clinic on anything they requested. We all agree that the Clinic has been instrumental in job creation as well as in research and development and I greatly commend them for that..

However, my friends, this is about the life or death of our citizens.  It is not about gleaming glass medical buildings or a “home away from home” setting for international royalty.  It is about trauma care for our residents of Cleveland and surrounding municipalities. My own grandmother’s life was saved years ago at Huron Road Trauma Unit after she experienced a massive heart attack. Many residents can tell a similar story about how the TRAUMA CARE UNIT was vital in the critical care needs of a loved one. None of us at City Hall wish to engage in a fight with Cleveland Clinic. In fact, we should never have found ourselves in this situation. However, we are here now; and, a solution must be found in order that trauma care is properly provided for the citizens of our eastside wards and our nearby suburban neighbors.

The Cleveland Clinic is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new facilities while at the same time reducing services at Huron Road Hospital. Quite frankly, I don’t see a whole lot of improvement taking place at Euclid Hospital, either. Therefore, I urge all of you to write Dr. Delos Cosgrove, CEO of Cleveland Clinic, as well as the Board of Directors, who are the “movers and shakers” of the Greater Cleveland area, to express your opinion about this decision.  Enclosed is Dr. Cosgrove’s address as well as that of the Board of Directors.

Please join with Mayor Frank G. Jackson of the City of Cleveland, Mayor Gary Norton of the City of East Cleveland, my colleagues and myself along with other suburban office holders and community leaders as we attempt to change their decision. Any questions please do not hesitate to call me. I may be reached at my office at (216) 664-4236.

A letter to Dr. Cosgrove may be sent to him via the following address (we could not identify an email address for his office ):

Dr. Delos Cosgrove
President  & Chief Executive Officer
Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
Mail Code H18
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195.

A letter to the Board of Directors may be mailed to the same address.  They are as follows:

Mr. A. Malachi Mixon III        Mr. Patrick Auletta
Mr. Thomas A. Commes        Dr. Tommaso Falcone
Mr. Umberto P. Fedeli        Dr. Joseph F. Hahn
Mr. Stephen R. Hardis        Mr. David J. Hessler
Mr. John W. Kemper, Sr.    Ms. Norma Lerner
Mr. Patrick F. McCartan        Mr. William E. McDonald III
Mr. Samuel Miller            Ms. Beth E. Mooney
Mr. Robert E. Rich, Jr.        Dr. Ronald J. Ross
Mr. Bill R. Sanford            Mr. Joseph M. Scaminace
Mr. William R. Timken        Mr. Robert J. Tomsich
                                 Mr. Morry Weiss
Sincerely yours,                

                            Michael D. Polensek
                            Councilman, Ward 11

Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 2:14 PM, 11.11.2010