A public rally and a courtroom drama led to a tentative deal late last week between the beleaguered for-profit Primary Health Systems and the city of Cleveland to keep one of PHS' hospitals open after the company said earlier in the week that it would close.
Wayne, Pa.-based PHS, which filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 a year ago, said March 6 that it would close two more of its four Cleveland-area hospitals, 98-bed Mt. Sinai Medical Center East in Richmond Heights and 199-bed Saint Michael Hospital in Cleveland, by month's end.
At the end of February, PHS closed 344-bed Mount Sinai-University Circle (Feb. 21, p. 22). The moves would leave PHS with one facility, 212-bed Deaconess Hospital of Cleveland.
PHS was to sell the shuttered Mt. Sinai Medical Center East and Saint Michael, along with an operational ambulatory surgery center and physician office complex in Beachwood, Ohio, to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for $62.6 million. The Cleveland Clinic had not disclosed what it planned to do with the closed facilities.
But the announcement raised the hackles of physicians who lease office space in buildings on the hospitals' campuses, and also of Cleveland's city and county officials, who claimed the closures would reduce access.
The physicians, city and county obtained a temporary restraining order from the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court enjoining PHS from closing the two hospitals.
The city then reached a tentative agreement to convert Saint Michael into a community health center with urgent-care and long-term-care beds that would be owned by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Mt. Sinai Medical Center-East would close.
"The real questions that the mayor should be asking are: Why wouldn't PHS negotiate with us regarding these properties? Why did PHS keep this deal exclusive to the Cleveland Clinic, which obviously had no plans to operate these facilities and serve the immediate communities?" Farah Walters, president and chief executive officer of University Hospitals Health System, said in a written statement.