Northeast Ohio Hospitals Plan To Stop Diverting Ambulances

By Sarah Jane Tribble

Cleveland city leaders and the major hospital systems confirmed Friday that they have verbally agreed to stop the practice of turning ambulances or EMS squads away from their emergency departments.

The practice, called diversions, has been used for years by Northeast Ohio's hospitals, often when their emergency departments were overcrowded.

Cleveland Public Safety Director Ed Eckart says the decision is "absolutely the right thing to do."

The Cleveland Clinic confirmed in an e-mail Friday that University Hospitals, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, MetroHealth System and the Clinic have reached an agreement to limit diversions at the beginning of December. 

In addition, a Clinic spokeswoman confirmed via email that hospitals "will not go on diversion" as of Feb. 15, 2016.

Of the major hospitals, the main campuses at UH and MetroHealth have logged the most hours of diversions in 2015. According to county data, their emergency rooms were closed to EMS squads for hundreds of hours during the first 10 months of this year. 

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley also applauded the proposed agreement.

“To me it's tremendously important that they follow through and keep talking to each other,” Kelley says.

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