University Hospitals is temporarily closing a number of its freestanding emergency departments, including ones in Kent and Twinsburg, effective 7 a.m. on Sunday.
Other freestanding emergency departments also closing Sunday are ones in Avon, Amherst and Broadview Heights.
UH had previously suspended operations at freestanding emergency departments in Andover and North Ridgeville. UH also closed the urgent care center at Streetsboro Medical Center on April 11.
According to UH Chief Operating Officer Eric Beck, DO, MPH, "University Hospitals is committed to providing the safest, highest-quality care for our patients in these communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and for all of our patients’ needs now and in the future."
The health system is notifying and discussing the temporary suspension of services at these free-standing emergency departments with local, regional, state and federal government officials. UH said it will continually evaluate patient volumes and preferences as a guide for the return of emergency department services.
UH officials said the decision is based on a sharp decline in the number of patients visiting UH emergency departments system-wide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Current patient volumes are down 50 percent at UH hospital-based emergency departments and more than 70 percent at UH freestanding emergency departments. UH officials noted patients are seeking care in different ways that include phone or online virtual care and urgent care.
Other UH ambulatory services at these UH health center locations will continue to be open and available to patients. Emergency departments remain open at all UH hospitals.
UH urgent care facilities in Broadview Heights, Kent and Twinsburg will continue to serve health care needs in these communities, and on Monday, UH will open urgent cares in Amherst and Avon. Urgent cares offer patients a lower-cost access point for many services than emergency departments, and these facilities can transition patients to UH hospitals when more acute care is needed.
UH is partnered with first responders with 182 medical commands across the region to assure that patients are transported to locations providing the appropriate level of care.
Caregivers at these facilities will have options to move into positions at the new urgent cares and at other locations within the health system. "We appreciate the flexibility and dedication of our caregivers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created unique demands for our health care services," Beck said.
Health systems across the country have been impacted financially by the high costs associated with preparedness for a surge in COVID-19 patients and a reduction in revenues from the suspension of non-essential surgeries and procedures. Additionally, some patients have been reluctant during the pandemic to access care in traditional ways
In Ohio, it is estimated that hospitals are seeing financial losses of $42 million per day and spending $5 million per day on increased costs of supplies.