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University Hospitals to cut some services due to staffing shortages

A photo of the exterior of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.
The emergency room services at UH Bedford will be consolidated with those at UH's Ahuja Medical Center.

University Hospitals will no longer provide inpatient, surgical and emergency services at their UH Bedford and Richmond medical centers because of staffing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital system announced Thursday.

"While the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has declined, UH continues to be impacted by the national shortage of health care workers," the system said in a media release. "UH has more unfilled positions than at any time in its history, and available health care workers remain scarce."

The services will be consolidated to facilities at UH Ahuja, Geauga, Lake West, TriPoint, Beachwood, Geneva and Conneaut medical centers, according to the media release.

The move, which affects the inpatient, surgical and emergency services department only, will be effective Aug. 12, the hospital said. The local physicians services available at the UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers will continue — as will the Behavior Health unit at UH Richmond.

The emergency room services at UH Bedford, on Blaine Avenue, will move 6.2 miles away to UH's Ahuja Medical Center, the hospital said. The ER at UH Richmond, on Chardon Road, will shift to UH Lake West, about 6.1 miles away.

Inpatient services will be available at UH Ahuja, UH Lake West, UH TriPoint and UH Geauga medical centers.

The consolidation comes after the hospital system says it conducted an analysis of its service model, facilities, resources and community health care needs.

“Our hospitals in Bedford and Richmond Heights are among the smallest and least utilized within UH. Consolidating services to nearby locations enables us to staff more efficiently during this critical time,” said Dr. Paul Hinchey, UH's Interim Chief Operating Officer and President, who called the decision to consolidate difficult, but necessary.“

The hospital says it will invest in new wellness programs at both the UH Bedford and UH Richmond campuses, including programs for wellness and safety, maternal and child health, food security, and workforce development.

UH said will be also work with the mayors of both Bedford and Richmond Heights to determine the best uses for the two sites in the future.

Caregivers working at UH Bedford and UH Richmond will be given the option to transfer to locations with in the UH system, the release said.

Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.