University Hospitals is discontinuing inpatient, surgical and emergency department services at its Bedford and Richmond medical centers to optimize limited resources amid a local and national healthcare staffing shortage.
Effective Friday, Aug. 12, UH will consolidate these services into its other facilities east of Cleveland, according to a news release: UH Ahuja, Geauga, Lake West, TriPoint, Beachwood, Geneva and Conneaut medical centers. Local physician services at the Bedford and Richmond campuses will continue, and the Behavioral Health unit at UH Richmond also will continue operations. Emergency department services will shift to the nearest hospital, each about six miles away — UH Bedford to UH Ahuja, and UH Richmond to UH Lake West.
In a video addressing the community and UH caregivers, CEO Dr. Cliff Megerian laid out plans to invest in new programs and services at the Bedford and Richmond campuses that match community needs, focused on four key areas: wellness and safety; maternal and child health; food security; and workforce development.
The system also will work with the mayors of Bedford and Richmond Heights to determine the best future uses for the sites, according to the release.
"We know many patients have long standing relationships with these medical centers, and we hope that they and their families understand that we made these decisions with their interests in mind and one simple goal: to continue to provide them with the best, safest care possible," said Megerian, also the Jane and Henry Meyer Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair at UH. "The reality is that although we are taking steps to develop and attract healthcare workers, the staffing shortage is real and will be with us for some time."
Healthcare systems regionally and nationally are facing shortages of nurses, support staff and other caregivers. UH has more unfilled positions than at any time in its 156-year history, with more than 3,000 job openings systemwide, including nearly 1,000 bedside nurses.
The system is "taking every step possible" to address the shortages, Megerian said, including partnerships with universities and colleges that train personnel, tuition support, compensation adjustments and enhancements to the workplace experience.
The system will give UH Bedford and UH Richmond caregivers the option to transfer to other UH locations and will work with them about career path options as details and timing evolve, according to the release, which notes that many caregivers at the two medical centers have already transitioned to support other UH hospitals with higher patient volumes, according to the release. More than 600 caregivers — 337 at UH Richmond and 280 at UH Bedford — are affected.
UH selected these locations for ceasing inpatient services "after a lot of careful thought," Megerian said. The system conducted an analysis of its service model, facilities, resources and community healthcare needs, including engaging an independent advisory firm, according to the release.
"Although the decision to consolidate was difficult, it was necessary," Dr. Paul Hinchey, UH interim chief operating officer and president of UH Community Delivery Network, said in a provided statement.
UH Bedford and UH Richmond are among the system's "smallest and least utilized," Hinchey said in the release, adding that the consolidation to nearby facilities will enable UH to staff more efficiently.
Located at 27100 Chardon Road, UH Richmond Medical Center has been serving patients since 1961. UH Bedford Medical Center, at 44 Blaine Ave., opened in 1928 as Bedford Municipal Hospital and in 1979 was renamed The Community Hospital of Bedford. UH bought the facility in 1993.
"We appreciate what a hospital and the long legacy of care delivered at these facilities means to the community," Megerian said in a statement. "I'm sure, however, that these decisions are the right ones for all of our patients, and that our patients in Bedford and Richmond Heights will be well-served by the investments we will be making in wellness programs and services designed specifically for them."
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Cleveland Business.