When patients don't know a hospital closed

EMS call records show the confusion that can occur among community members and first responders in the wake of a hospital closure, IdeaStream Public Media reported Dec. 19.

Cleveland-based St. Vincent Charity Medical Center ended inpatient and emergency room care in November 2022, but records show numerous people continued to show up at the facility seeking emergency care, unaware the ED had closed.

IdeaStream obtained 911 call records from an emergency call box located outside the shuttered ED, in which individuals asked dispatchers for help or to send an ambulance. The records show callers and dispatchers often had trouble communicating with each other through the box and, at times, dispatchers weren't aware the ED had closed.  

Ambulances were dispatched to the hospital 121 times in the 11 months after its closure, EMS records show, though some calls involved patient transfers from its urgent care and psychiatric ER, which remain open on the campus. 

One Cleveland EMS temporarily stopped bringing patients to the psychiatric ER, assuming it had also closed, though the confusion has since been resolved, according to Brad Rauh, chief administrative officer for St. Vincent. 

Hospital leaders said they confirmed the emergency call box works before closing the facility and have since launched urgent care and outpatient mental healthcare services. 

"The combination of a physical officer there and a direct line to 911 EMS remains the best solution other than actually having a staffed clinical operation, which we're not capable of doing anymore," Mr. Rauh said of the closed ED.

Read the full article here.

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