Editor's note: This story has been corrected throughout to reflect that MetroHealth is converting existing EDs in Cleveland Heights and Parma into micro-hospitals.
MetroHealth is tapping a growing trend throughout the country by opening 12- and 16-bed "micro-hospitals,", Lydia Coutré writes for Crain's Cleveland Business.
The micro-hospitals are slated to open in January.
A local focus
According to Coutré, micro-hospitals—or "community hospitals" as MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros prefers to call them—are inpatient facilities, open 24/7, that aim to fill service gaps in local markets that are not large enough to support a regular hospital.
Health systems often establish such facilities to gain entry into specific markets, according to research from Advisory Board. While micro-hospitals can provide care for some high-acuity patients if needed, they do not aim to provide comprehensive services. According to Advisory Board, such facilities are best located within 18 to 20 miles of a full-service hospital, so patients can be transferred if appropriate.
MetroHealth has allocated $25 million to establish the micro-hospitals at its existing EDs in Cleveland Heights and Parma—well under the estimated $70 to $100 million apiece that would be required to build each from scratch, according to Boutros.
Each of the facilities currently houses an ED and services such as lab, pharmacy, and radiology. After the facilities are converted to micro-hospitals, the Cleveland Heights location will have 12 beds and the Parma facility will have 16.
The micro-hospitals will provide adult medicine and are designed for patients who require shorter inpatient stays. Pediatric patients, as well as those who require obstetric care, intensive care, or services like cardiac surgery will be transferred to a larger facility. As Boutros put it, both locations already have "very robust" specialty and outpatient care services, "so adding the inpatient, private rooms just completes the offering to the community."
Boutros said the project aims to respond to patient demand. He said that about 70 percent of the patients whom the EDs currently transfer to MetroHealth's main campus or other facilities each day could likely be treated at a micro-hospital. He said he expects the number of patients coming to MetroHealth's main campus will decrease proportionately.
Boutros also said the system would be able to assess the effect of the new micro-hospitals on inpatient demand before MetroHealth begins a planned renovation at its main campus. According to Coutré, the system recently got investors' approval for a $945.7 million bond issuance to fund the renovation, which involves the construction of a new 12-story hospital with 270 beds.
Boutros added that he anticipates a positive reaction from the community once the micro-hospitals are open. "I expect that people who experience it are going to be so positively impacted by it that, given a choice for most of their care, that they will choose this site over the larger, more complex, harder to navigate sites," he said (Coutré, Crain's Cleveland Business, 5/21).
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