CLEVELAND -- At its annual Stakeholders Meeting on Friday, The MetroHealth System unveiled the design of its new hospital planned for the W. 25th Street main campus.

The design includes a new 11-story hospital joined to the existing Critical Care Pavilion (CCP) and an abundance of green space for the community.

The new hospital will have private patient rooms, designed to enhance the patient and family experience. The rooms will have floor-to-ceiling windows with ample space for family to stay overnight, and mirror the aesthetics of the rooms in the CCP and MetroHealth’s new hospitals in Cleveland Heights and Parma, which opened in January 2018.

Courtesy MetroHealth
Courtesy MetroHealth

All rooms have Intensive Care Unit capabilities, with flexibility for surge capacity, allowing MetroHealth to double its occupancy if necessary. In total, MetroHealth will have 450 patient rooms throughout the entire health system.

The CCP will eventually become home to MetroHealth’s Department of Labor and Delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), with a new dedicated entryway for these patients and families. The CCP’s existing ICU rooms will move into the new hospital. The new Pediatric Unit will have indoor and outdoor activity space, with a planned rooftop terrace for patients and families.

The project is being financed by $946 million in hospital-revenue bonds sold in May 2017 by MetroHealth on its own credit. No taxpayer money will be used for the project. A $100 million fundraising campaign will support community programs and development of expanded campus green space.

MetroHealth doctors and nurse practitioners prescribed 3 million fewer opioid pills in the past 18 months, a reduction the health system believes to be one of the highest in the nation. Specifically, MetroHealth providers reduced the number of opioid pills prescribed by 62 percent for acute pain, and 25 percent for chronic pain.

To support patients who are in pain, the health system has also opened a Pain & Healing Center to provide alternatives to the addictive medication that kills, on average, 115 Americans every day.

“We’ve been tackling the opioid epidemic for a long time. Not until recently, did we recognize that providers can do a lot more,” said Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, president and CEO of MetroHealth. “We want to be an example. We want to do better and start fixing the problem. If everyone followed our example, we would reduce the number of opioids prescribed in the United States by 4 billion pills annually, in the next 18 months.”

The reduction was achieved through MetroHealth’s electronic medical record system, which now alerts prescribers to patients who may be at risk of addiction, guiding them toward alternative medications, lower dosages and other options for treatment.

The electronic medical record also offers to add a Naloxone prescription when prescribing opioids, an alert that has led to a 5,000 percent increase in Naloxone prescribing in the past three months.

Courtesy MetroHealth
Courtesy MetroHealth

In addition, every provider in the health system licensed to prescribe narcotics has undergone training to learn new ways for treating patients with chronic or acute pain. All providers attended mandatory town hall meetings to identify processes and tools for safe opioid prescribing, and to learn how to integrate tools to lower drug misuse while promoting effective patient adherence to drug regimens.

A safe opioid prescribing simulation program was developed for providers to practice crucial conversations with patients who may be seeking opioids. In these simulations, providers learned how to address difficult behaviors and illicit drug use and manage patients already on high-dose opioids. In addition, providers were educated about alternative options for pain management, including non-opioid medication or other therapies.

MetroHealth opened a Pain & Healing Center, created to reduce opioid prescriptions and offer patients safe and effective alternatives for pain management.

The Center brings together many different therapies and specialists to help patients handle their pain without the use of opioids. Acupuncture, infusion therapy, reiki, pain management, neurology, psychology and psychiatry are among the therapies and specialty services offered.

“It was important for MetroHealth to step up and reduce the stream of opioids into the community, while also offering our patients pain relief through other measures,” said Dr. Boutros. “Patients welcome the ability to have non-opioid options available.”

These initiatives are all part of MetroHealth’s Office of Opioid Safety, which opened in 2017. Its mission is to promote opioid safety throughout the health system and in the greater community through education, advocacy and treatment.