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Cleveland city leaders, Salvation Army alarmed after St. Vincent Charity Medical Center announces it will cease inpatient care

"This is going to have a devastating impact on the surrounding neighborhood."

CLEVELAND — New hardships are being realized after the announcement of changes coming to Cleveland's St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. The plan, announced on Wednesday, includes ending inpatient care by mid November. 

One specific concern is for the people who depend on the Salvation Army for help. Because the Salvation Army depends on St. Vincent.           

"Behavioral health and social service agencies in general are really struggling right now," says Beau Hill of the Salvation Army.

Will the struggle intensify?

The Salvation Army is dependent on St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, in part because it's just four blocks away on East 22nd Street in downtown Cleveland. 

It's a close, critical lifeline. 

"So when you're talking about the people that we're called to serve, proximity is key and the opportunity for our people to get services just a few blocks from us is very, very important," Hill adds.

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin isn't holding back his feelings about the changes coming to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. 

"Disappointed and frustrated," Griffin responded when asked for his reaction. "This is the ninth hospital to shut down in this region since 1990  We've got to have more of a commitment to the urban core. This is going to have a devastating impact on the surrounding neighborhood."

The statement put out by council on Wednesday morning was sharp.

"Earlier today, the Sisters of Charity Health System and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center announced their intention to suspend emergency and inpatient procedures at the hospital, leaving only behavioral health, primary care, and urgent care services for the community. The Sisters of Charity’s decision to end emergency and inpatient services will have an immediate and drastic impact on the health of Central and Ward 5, predominantly African American communities. The two zip codes surrounding St. Vincent Charity – zip codes 44103 and 44115 - have the lowest life expectancies of any zip code in Cleveland. This decision also impacts St. Vincent Charity hospital workers. 

We are disappointed by this decision. However, as leaders, we will take every step possible to right this wrong. Cleveland is known for our world-class health institutions. We have engaged and active community health centers. We will work with these organizations to ensure there is no health care void in Ward 5. We urge the Sisters of Charity Medical Center to partner with our healthcare institutions to assist any potentially displaced workers."

One quote, in particular, seemed notable: "We are disappointed by this decision, however, as leaders, we will take every step to right this wrong."

We asked Griffin how council plans to "right this wrong."

"I've talked to leaders of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and we're gonna work hard to make sure we can find places for those workers to go to," Griffin said. "We've already reached out to University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, and MetroHealth because we want to make sure nurses have a good opportunity to work in one of these institutions."

Meanwhile, Hill says there's a question mark for the Salvation Army as to what comes next. "As far as how we're going to interface with St. Vincent Charity, I think we're going to have to see how things play out," he said.

Lydia Esparra spoke with Amy Gonzalez of New Avenues to Independence, an organization that helps those with mental disabilities. She pointed to another issue that affected St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. 

"There were often beds not available and they were at capacity, not able to give us an admission," she says. Gonzalez adds that the organization had to "hospital hop" for their clients, sometimes all the way to Columbus because there was not help for them locally. 

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