July 31, 2014

Elyria
Partly cloudy
60°F
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St. Joe’s future shaky

LORAIN — The St. Joseph Community Center in Lorain was dealt a financial blow by its former owner that puts in jeopardy its future.
On June 30, Community Health Partners informed the center’s development arm — South Shore Community Development Corp. — that it intends on pulling its annual subsidy of more than $630,000 in June 2008.
Mark Nosacka, Community Health Partners’ president and CEO, serves as a trustee on South Shore’s board and said the withdrawl of funds is based on the government’s reduction of reimbursement rates for its long-term extended care hospital, Community Specialty Hospital of Lorain, which is housed in the center.
“During 2007, we’ve had to cope with revenue cuts that the government had given to us,” Nosacka said. “We’ve not been able to generate the extra earnings to pay the subsidy to South Shore Development.”
The center faces a $200,000 budget shortfall in 2008 and a $400,000 deficit in 2009 without the annual subsidy.
South Shore hopes to find an organization or group of donors willing to replace the funding void left behind by CHP, parent company of the hospital formed when the former Lorain Community and St. Joseph hospitals merged, according to Jim Cordes, chairman of the South Shore board. Cordes is also county administrator.
In addition to the shortfall, the center also must repay a $2.8 million loan, the repayment date of which already has been extended to 2010. The county and the city of Lorain each guaranteed 25 percent of the loan, and the state guaranteed that the remaining 50 percent would be repaid.
Should the center default on the loan, more than 200 people who work at the center would lose their jobs and $700,000 of it would have to be paid for by the county and the city.
While South Shore is intent on resolving its money woes by finding more tenants for the center, Nosacka couldn’t guarantee that Community Specialty Hospital, the center’s largest tenant, would be there in the future.
“We’re still evaluating what anticipated impact the reimbursement cuts may be,” Nosacka said.
The center’s board of trustees will make a decision for the future of the center by January, but Cordes said closing the doors might not be avoidable if more tenants depart.
“The loss of any square footage currently on the lease will be devastating to us,” he said. “If we lose anymore ground, we’re just about finished.”

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.

Who’s left out if center closes

LORAIN — The St. Joseph Community Center turned a defunct hospital property into a hub for local services, but a lack of tenants could spell its end.
The center on West 20th Street in Lorain formed in 1997 and currently serves 100,000 people each year at its various entities.
County Administrator James Cordes, chairman of the South Shore Community Development Corp., which runs the center, said closing the Veterans Affairs Clinic would affect thousands of local veterans long retired and those fresh from war.
“We have vets returning from Iraq that need services in Lorain County,” Cordes said. “The biggest blow to the community would be if the VA Clinic had to leave its home here.”
Although 13 tenants call the center home, they make up only 49 percent of its potential occupancy.
Should the center close, they’d have to relocate or close as well.
Community Specialty Hospital of Lorain is the center’s largest tenant — providing long-term acute care as a part of Community Health Partners. It specializes in longer periods of in-patient care than CHP Regional Medical Center and offers a high nurse-to-patient ratio.
The second-largest tenant is the 22,000-square-foot Veteran’s Affairs Outpatient Clinic.
In addition to general care, it provides patients with on-site blood labs, digital radiology, a pharmacy, optometry and physical therapy, as well as mental health and podiatrist care.
In addition to health care, Lorain County Community College utilizes the center as a satellite office, offering short-term training and programs to 1,000 students annually.
The college’s emphasis at the center is providing low-income residents with job training and to give access to computers for those who might not have them at home.
Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.

WHAT: Some of the tenants in the St. Joseph Community Center
WHO:
 Community Specialty Hospital
 Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic
 Lorain County Community College
 Lorain County Auto Titles and Passports
 Enterprise Development Holding Co.
 Panther Press Inc.
 Community Health Partners Regional Foundation
 Multicultural Business and Non-profit Center
 Field office for U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton