Critical mass Featured

11:27am EDT November 20, 2003
Rumor has it that there are a number of medical professionals in the area who joke they wear T-shirts with "If I'm in an accident, take me to MetroHealth" printed on them.

This is not too shocking until you know that these medical professionals are employed by one of the two most renowned medical facilities in the region.

As a first-class trauma center, MetroHealth System has become a safety net hospital, taking in those who don't have access to other facilities or services.

"Many hospitals are backing away from trauma care, and we are getting more pressure to provide those services," says Terry R. White, president and CEO of The MetroHealth System. "We are seeing more of a demand for those resources, and there are a lot of ambulances looking for a place to take critical care patients."

With the closing of Mt. Sinai and St Luke's in 2002, MetroHealth became the region's only safety-net hospital at a time when uncompensated charity care costs in the region have reached $100 million. MetroHealth operates 13 inpatient and outpatient facilities in urban and suburban settings throughout Greater Cleveland, and these neighborhood health centers saw approximately 175,000 patients in 2002.

"We really feel that we are a health care delivery system, and we want to provide care in the most efficient and effective setting ... which is close to home," says White. "People like to get service in the immediate community."

In the end, it cost a lot less to see a patient in the health care center than in the emergency room. But for patients in need of emergency care, MetroHealth is building a 5,000-square-foot Critical Care Pavilion, capable of handling 100,000 emergency visits annually.

"This will be the nicest surgical facility in the world with the best surgical suites and everything," says White. "It will be the best until someone builds the next one, at least."

And does White have to say about the T-shirt rumor? He won't confirm or deny, but says, "Maybe, after the (Pavilion) is finished, we'll have a party and give them away." How to reach:The MetroHealth System, (216)778-7800 or www.metrohealth.org