St. Vincent expansion may unite Downtown, Campus District

St Vincent Charity Medical Center

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is often overlooked in a metro area dominated by much larger, higher-profile health care systems. But St. Vincent has set about to change that, starting with a masterplan to align its broadening mission to positively affect the health of Greater Clevelanders with the facilities necessary to achieve it (CSA).
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When you take stock of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center‘s (SVCMC) properties and how they are used, it becomes apparent how under-utilized they are. And when considered in terms of the 156-year-old hospital’s proximity to Downtown Cleveland, it’s equally apparent how cut off it is.

Those and other features are among the issues to be addressed by a master-planning effort by Boston-based MASS Design Group to determine how the growing medical institution can better serve its community. Like its bigger colleagues — Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth — SVCMC is constrained by the surrounding city and its dependence on the car.

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Nearly two-thirds of land owned or controlled by SVCMC is used for surface parking lots or as greenspace that separates buildings from sidewalks, making them less pedestrian friendly. Some of the greenspace exists for lack of another identified use.

In a written statement, SVCMC said its health campus “will encompass property owned by the Sisters of Charity at East 22nd Street and serve as a catalyst for revitalization in the surrounding area. SVCMC will be an anchor institution, partner and namesake in what will be known as the St. Vincent Charity Health Campus. Depending on what is recommended during the planning and engagement process, new services, programs and partners will be added to the existing services at SVCMC’s main campus.”

properties in and near the St Vincent Charity Health Campus are used not efficiently

While nearly all properties in and near the St. Vincent Charity Health Campus are used, many are not used efficiently or in ways that would improve safe and comfortable access for populations that cannot afford to operate cars (Google).

“We work from the philosophy that our built environment should be designed to advance human dignity and promote health,” said Michael Murphy, founding principal and executive director of MASS Design Group. “The Health Campus is an opportunity for the Cleveland community to bring this philosophy to life, and create true health equity through justice and empathy.”

MASS is coordinating with Sasaki Associates, also of Boston, that is serving as the lead consultant for Cleveland State University’s campus masterplan. Their work on creating a vision for both campuses, as well as the next phase for the redesign of the Inner Belt/Interstate 90 corridor in 2024, is an opportunity to better link those areas. MASS representatives were in town last week to begin their work with SVCMC.

Among the goals is to not only serve the acute care needs among growing populations in nearby downtown, Ohio City, Tremont and Central, but also to improve health conditions among low-income populations in Cleveland’s inner-city neighborhoods. Health care that is accessible physically as well as financially is a challenge. One in four Cleveland households has no car available — a number that rises to one out of two households in neighborhoods with more poverty, Census figures show.

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In those areas, chronic health problems such as high infant mortality rates, drug addictions and harmful effects from residential and industrial pollutants remain untreated. Addressing the health care side of those and other quality-of-life problems is a growing focus for the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

Plans for redesigning the Inner Belt-Interstate 90 may help improve pedestrian linkages

Plans for redesigning the Inner Belt/Interstate 90 may help improve pedestrian linkages between downtown, Cleveland State University and the St. Vincent Charity Health Campus (ODOT).

Health care system representatives said the design process will recognize Sisters of Charity core values, serving the community with the broadest definition of health, including addressing social determinants, poverty and racial segregation, and upward mobility. Most health systems don’t work on such broad issues.

“The expansion of the St. Vincent Charity main campus with partners beyond acute care can lead to a lifetime of improved community health outcomes,” said Susanna H. Krey, senior vice president, Sisters of Charity Health System and president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

And while MASS’s masterplan will focus on adding facilities, services and physical linkages to SVCMC’s existing properties, NEOtrans understands that it won’t end there. A source close to the planning work but wasn’t authorized to speak publicly said the plan may also look at underutilized properties nearby.

One of those will reportedly be the vacated, historic Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center on East 22nd, between Cedar and Central avenues. There are also several underutilized parking lots nearby owned by the county. The detention center was closed in 2011 when a new facility opened on Quincy Avenue at East 93rd Street.

interior courtyard of the former Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center on East 22nd Street

The interior courtyard of the former Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center on East 22nd Street (Architectural Afterlife).

The source said that the 90-year-old jail facility will likely be torn down because it cannot easily be repurposed to new uses. But the court building facing East 22nd will be retained and possibly reused.

The county has shown interest in retaining it for new uses, such as a long-term home for the county’s new Diversion Center. Currently located on East 55th Street, the diversion program treats those with substance abuse and mental problems who committed lesser offenses rather than send them to jail.

East of the old juvenile detention is one of the oldest public housing complexes still standing in Cleveland. Olde Cedar, part of the 17-acre Cedar Estates, is set to be razed and replaced with modern housing by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. The first phases of replacing the 1950s-era complex were completed in 2017. Current phases include Sankofa Village and Scholar House.

In its official statement, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine said “Thoughtful inclusion of residents with lived experience is critical to anchoring as well as developing the vision for the initiative.” Drafts of the plan could be available as early as this winter.

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