DOVER — Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital will close its outpatient surgery center and move all surgeries and procedures to the hospital by Sept. 1, according to Darrin Lautenschleger, the hospital’s director of community relations.
The hospital will close the Tuscarawas Ambulatory Surgery Center, at 320 Oxford St., which currently accommodates surgical procedures not requiring an overnight hospital stay.
“This decision was made as part of ongoing reviews of all of the hospital’s services and facilities to provide for optimization of the hospital’s resources for patient care and overall efficiencies,” he said in a prepared statement. “All patients seeking surgical services in the community can be accommodated through the resources available in the hospital, which allows for the concentration of high-quality patient care in one location.”
The 15-year director of the outpatient surgery center, Dr. Charles Barrett, disagrees with the decision. He said ambulatory surgery centers are efficient and benefit patients.
“You take small cases and do them quickly and efficiently so the patients can get in and out of the center,” he said. “That’s now the gold standard.
“In fact, most institutions, like OMNI Orthopaedics and Spectrum Orthopaedics are moving their total joint replacements to outpatient because it’s more efficient and provides less chance of an infection because you’re not in the hospital.
“That’s the direction everybody else is going to, is moving patients to the outpatient center, rather than what we just did,” Barrett said.
He said it was a “travesty” that Cleveland Clinic made the decision without communicating with him and others close to the situation. He said hospital President and CEO Bruce James told him at 4 p.m. July 14, an hour before the rest of the staff learned of the impending closure.
“The problem … for the community is the Cleveland Clinic doesn’t know this community,” Barrett said.
He believes the closure will mean Tuscarawas County patients will travel more for outpatient procedures because their doctors will choose to perform them at ambulatory surgery centers in Canton.
Barrett said Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital will not be able to accommodate the roughly 500 cases per month handled at the outpatient center in addition to its existing volume of about 250 procedures monthly.
He said the Tuscarawas Ambulatory Surgery Center has high patient satisfaction scores. Procedures performed there include endoscopies, cataract surgeries and chronic pain management treatment.
“I would say the majority of the population thinks it’s a great asset to the community,” Barrett said.
Barrett formerly managed the outpatient surgery center under terms of a contract between his practice, Anesthesia Care of Union Hospital Inc., and Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital. He also managed the outpatient center’s anesthesia department. The hospital did not renew his contract.
He said the Cleveland Clinic is replacing independent practitioners like himself with physicians who are their employees.
Staci Martin, a nurse anesthetist who works for Barrett, agrees with his view on the value of keeping the Tuscarawas Ambulatory Surgery Center open.
“Closing this facility would be a disservice to the patients, community, staff and physicians! Surgery centers safely and efficiently streamline the patient experience! The hospital routine does not allow this to happen and will increase patient and family wait times!” Martin told The Times-Reporter via Facebook message. “It’s hurting SO many more people than Dr. B and myself!”
An online petition at www.change.org opposing the closure of the Tuscarawas Ambulatory Surgery Center had received 1,769 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
The petition says the outpatient surgery center has “an awesome, friendly, compassionate team of Doctors, Nurses, and many others that assist you throughout all of your procedures.”
It said Cleveland Clinic will close the facility Sept. 1 unless the public can persuade them the center is needed.
“We need to remind them what this Center means to Tuscarawas County and that we do NOT want its doors to close,” the petition says. “Cleveland Clinic may be (new) to the area but the Surgery Center is not, they have been good to all of us here in Tuscarawas County.
“We do NOT want to have to wait and go to the Hospital for these outpatient surgeries. The Ambulatory Surgery Center has been a great asset to our community and we do not want to lose it.
“Please keep the doors open!!! Sign our petition to save Tuscarawas Ambulatory Surgery Center, we need your help. This group of Doctors, Nurses, and (assistants) need us now to fight for them.”