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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER, a nonprofit, university-affiliated medical center dedicated to a broad program of care, teaching, and research, grew out of the work of the Young Ladies' Hebrew Association. The association was founded for the purpose of providing "care for the needy and sick" in 1892. In 1902, the name was changed to the Jewish Women's Hospital Association, and a private residence on East 37th Street was purchased and converted into a 29-bed hospital. The need for larger, improved facilities led to the formation of the Jewish Hospital Association of Cleveland in 1912 and the opening in 1913 of the East Side Free Dispensary on East 55th Street. A board of trustees was elected, and later that year the name Mt. Sinai was adopted. Fundraising for a new building was authorized by the Jewish Welfare Federation (see the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION) and a new 160-bed hospital was completed on East 105th Street in 1916, overlooking WADE PARK. From the beginning, half of its patients were non-Jewish. In 1927, a $1.35 million expansion included a nurses' home for the Mt. Sinai School of NURSING, a research laboratory, and an out-patient dispensary.

During its first three decades, Mt. Sinai had only two presidents: Paul L. Feiss and Max Myers. The first director of medicine, Alfred S. Maschke, is credited with being the founder and developer of the hospital's Department of Medicine. Among Mt. Sinai's researchers were Dr. Benjamin S. Kline, who perfected a new slide test for disease and centered international attention on the hospital's laboratory and Drs. HARRY GOLDBLATT and Erwin Haas who, while working in the 1960s at the hospital, became internationally known for their work in biochemistry. Mt. Sinai became a teaching hospital in 1947 when it affiliated with the WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY School of Medicine. In 1951, bed capacity was increased to 390 through expansion and renovation, which included the Katy Sanders Laboratory for experimental surgery. In 1955, the board of trustees rejected the proposal for relocation of Mt. Sinai to the SUBURBS as unconscionable in view of the urgent needs of the East Side's medically indigent population. A 12-story building was added in 1960, increasing bed capacity to 524. Further expansion included a 10-bed kidney-dialysis center and construction of the Max Freedman Clinic for out-patient care. By 1967, Mt. Sinai, partly supported by funds from the United Appeal and the Jewish Welfare Fund, was one of the area's most heavily used hospitals by poor families.

In the 1970s, Mt. Sinai continued to offer the basic services of medicine, surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, and rehabilitation and specialized services including open-heart surgery, renal transplant and dialysis, neonatal intensive care, and an organ bank. The School of Nursing graduated, its last class in 1970. Continued expansion included the opening of a new laboratory facility for patient care and research, and, in 1972, of an out-patient clinic in BEACHWOOD. In 1978, the historic tensions between the hospital's commitment to serving the poor and Cleveland's shifting demographic reality emerged anew when Mt. Sinai officials floated a plan to reduce and shift some of its services to the eastern suburbs. The plan was abandoned after criticism, led by city council president George L. Forbes, that the facility was abandoning its neighboring community of AFRICAN AMERICANS. With the aid of tax-exempt hospital revenue bonds, a $95 million wing was completed in the early 1980s. In 1993, Mt. Sinai opened a $50 million Integrated Medical Campus (IMC) for ambulatory care at its Beachwood facility and, supported by Ronald McDonald Children's Charities of IL, planned to develop a Pediatric Primary Care Clinic. Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation was established in 1994, with a $51 million contribution from Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Located in ALLEN MEMORIAL LIBRARY at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, the foundation has worked to improve the provision of health services in Greater Cleveland by sponsoring non-profit organizations. In 1995, Mt. Sinai Medical Center had 405 beds and 32 bassinets.

In late 1995, Pennsylvania-based Primary Health Systems (PHS) purchased Mt. Sinai Medical Center, including Laurelwood Hospital, a mental health facility in Willoughby, and the Integrated Medical Campus in Beachwood. The acquisition came about after the health insurance giant, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), dropped Mt. Sinai from its preferred-hospital list, leaving the hospital in danger of losing nearly all of its insured patients. After 92 years as a non-profit institution, therefore, Mt. Sinai became a for-profit hospital. Ironically enough, the hospital's for-profit status precluded it from receiving financial support from the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation which it had founded in 1994. Unable to successfully compete with its local rivals, the Cleveland Clinic and the University Hospitals, Mt. Sinai accumulated a debt of more than $110 million by 1999. In February 2000, Mt. Sinai Medical Center shut its doors for good, displacing more than 1,000 employees and a dozen medical practices. The subsidiary institutions of Mt. Sinai were divided between its competitors: University Hospitals acquired Laurelwood Hospital in Willoughby and Cleveland Clinic acquired the Integrated Medical Campus in Beachwood. In March 2001, Case Western Reserve University purchased the vacant Mt. Sinai Medical Center complex.


Last Modified: 25 Dec 2009 05:43:17 PM

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