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Posted On: 3/18/2011

State and Local Leaders Call on Governor to reconsider plans to scrap mental health hospital in Cleveland

Decision hurts city and county, leaves void for inpatient mental health treatment

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARCH 18, 2011

Contact: Melissa Fazekas, House Democratic Communications, (614) 466-9036
John Kohlstrand, Press Secretary Cuyahoga County, (216) 698-2099

CLEVELAND – Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood), Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County Chief Executive Officer William M. Denihan, State Representative Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), Cleveland City Councilman TJ Dow and members of the Ohio House Democratic caucus stood united today in their call for Governor Kasich to reconsider his decision to remove inpatient mental health care from Cuyahoga County. At a press conference held in Cleveland on the previously agreed upon Euclid Avenue Site for the new Cleveland Mental Health Hospital, state and local officials expressed their concerns over the impact this will have on patients and the community.

“Cancelling a $100 million project in the heart of Cleveland will hurt the mental health community and will cost Cuyahoga County jobs,” said House Democratic Leader Budish. “This decision not only impacts the families in need of inpatient mental health treatment, it also drives economic development out of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. The Governor should not renege on the state’s commitment to properly serve Cuyahoga County’s mental health community.”

The City of Cleveland and the Ohio Department of Mental Health had an agreement to build a new mental health hospital at the Euclid Avenue site featured in today’s press conference. Nearly $84 million was set aside in the capital budget for construction of the new facility. In addition, the City of Cleveland has already spent $4 million to prepare the site. Earlier this year the state notified the city that they would not be moving forward with their plans, rather they would consolidate services in Summit County.

“Government’s bottom line is service not profit. The State’s decision to move the Cleveland Campus of Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare out of Cleveland may save on cost but it compromises our ability to deliver service to people who need it and use it the most,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson.

By locating the new facility on Euclid Avenue, the new hospital would have offered improved services with closer access to more doctors. The Euclid avenue site is situated between downtown county agencies and Metro Health Hospital to the west and the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals to the east. Patient statistics show that most of the patients seeking inpatient mental health services in Cleveland are from Cuyahoga County. The Governor’s decision will force 97% of treated patients to travel to another county for services.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitz Gerald added, "This decision places an additional burden on Cuyahoga County families already coping with mental illness. Virtually all of the patients in the existing Cleveland hospital live right here in Cuyahoga County. Why move it further away from the people it serves?"

State and local leaders highlighted that this decision is not in the best interest of consumers of mental health services in Cleveland. The move to Summit County will force families to travel out of the county to visit, participate in treatment planning and pick-up consumers upon discharge. Many families do not have transportation and there is no public transportation to the Summit County facility. This decision has a trickle down cost on local law enforcement and will reduce partnerships with local hospitals and research universities like Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University.

“Closing of the Cleveland Campus and not building the new hospital in Cleveland is very bad for consumers of mental health services. Having residents of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County admitted to a hospital in Summit County will place another burden on the patients’ families by having to arrange for transportation to see their loved ones, as well as for discharge,” stressed William M. Denihan, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County.

He added, “Not having a mental health hospital in the city takes mental health treatment back to the mid-19th century, when the belief was that people with mental illness should be isolated from their families and communities. We know that interaction and treatment planning with family is important to a person’s mental health recovery.”

“The ability of Cuyahoga County residents to have access to mental health resources will be greatly compromised if the facility is relocated,” added Rep. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland).

The Ohio Department of Mental Health will now invest about $60 million in their Summit County campus. The additional funds which were set aside for the Cleveland facility, around $24 million, will now be spent on updating other state hospitals throughout the state, rather than Cuyahoga County as originally promised by the state.

“If we want to help residents with mental health issues, we have to be proactive on the front end,” said Cleveland City Councilman TJ Dow. “As a former prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, I saw it firsthand time and again. Transferring this facility outside of Cleveland will not help residents who do not have the means to travel to Summit County. The new proposed hospital in ward 7, which ODMH will abandon, would have meant better facilities, better treatment and better access for Clevelanders. ODMH’s action is not a step in prevention or treatment, it will become a contributor.”

In recent years the biotech and medical fields have been amongst the fastest growing sectors of employment in the Cleveland area. The city, county, and state have made coordinated investments to develop the region a world renowned center for medical excellence. The new mental health hospital was to be one of the cornerstones, centered in middle of the Midtown redevelopment project.