Posted May 29, 20204:18 pm
MetroHealth on Monday will open its Ohio City Health Center at the Urban Community School, a new facility offering medical care plus economic, social and legal services to the community.
The 32,000-square foot facility is located in the Cletus Jeckering Family Health Center at UCS, at the intersection of Lorain Avenue and West 48th Street in Cleveland. It will provide medical care to approximately 600 UCS students and their families, as well as the community at large.
MetroHealth and Urban Community School announced the health center in 2018. It was initially intended to cost roughly $6.5 million, with UCS covering the cost of construction and MetroHealth paying to build out the interior. The final cost ended up near $10 million as the scope of the project grew to include more services, UCS President Tom Gill said Friday.
MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros said Thursday that the Ohio City Health Center is a unique partnership because it’s intended to directly address social determinants to health; research suggests economic, social and legal factors can influence up to 80 percent of a person’s health, MetroHealth and UCS said in a news release. Boutros envisions the new facility as an anchor for the near West Side community.
“The hope is that with two community anchors coming together, we have most of the barriers to health care covered,” he said.
The Ohio City Health Center offers primary care, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics, gynecology and urgent care issues that do not require emergency-room treatment. It will be the fifth of the health system’s MetroExpressCare sites in Greater Cleveland.
In addition, the health center offers financial counseling, a WIC office, nutritional consultation and social work and civil legal help from the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cleveland.
Many of the health center’s providers are bilingual, and about 20 speak Spanish, the news release says.
Boutros said the Urban Community School is an ideal partner for the health center because of its long history of serving the community. The nonprofit UCS, founded in 1968 by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, has a diverse student population. Nearly 75 percent percent of its students come from families living below the poverty index, Gill said.
The Ursuline Sisters intended UCS to be an important part of the near West Side community, so the health center is a logical step in that direction, Gill said. He said UCS students and their families benefit from having access to the health center. MetroHealth is also providing health education and wellness programming for students and their families.
“Education and health care are so interwoven. We can’t think of them in silos. They impact one another on so many levels," Gill said. "If schools can be places that also anchor high-quality health care for kids and families, that’s a big win.”
Plans for the health center did create some controversy. In late 2018, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and UCS severed ties due to the plan to offer prescriptions for contraceptions at the health center. As a result, UCS is no longer considered a Catholic institution, Gill wrote in a letter to UCS supporters and parents.
Opening amid the coronavirus pandemic does create challenges, but the Ohio City Health Center is equipped to meet them, Boutros said. The health center is designed to provide roughly 20 percent of its services through telehealth. That will likely rise to 50 percent in the near-term due to the pandemic, Boutros said.
“We designed this facility for the future,” he said.
The Ohio City Health Center will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. MetroExpressCare will operate from noon to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.