July 25, 2014

Elyria
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CHP to end partnership at Elyria cancer center

ELYRIA — CHP Regional Medical Center has severed its five-year relationship with University Hospitals of Cleveland to jointly operate the Ireland Cancer Center on Schadden Road.

CHP spokesman Patrick Crowley insisted the move has nothing to do with tentative plans CHP has to build a new hospital, which would be called St. Mary’s Community Hospital, on nearby land CHP has been buying up in recent years.

Instead, Crowley said CHP simply decided that it wanted to go its own way and build on a previous reputation for cancer care that it enjoyed before forming the partnership five years ago when the Elyria location of UH’s Ireland Cancer Center opened.

“At this point, it didn’t make sense to continue with that partnership,” Crowley said.

Loree Vick, a UH spokeswoman, said CHP made the decision to terminate the relationship effective Nov. 15 when the contract between the two hospitals was set to expire.

CHP, which has struggled financially and laid off workers in the past few years, no longer will have to pay a fee to UH to use the Ireland Cancer Center name and will be able to use that money elsewhere, Crowley said. Exactly where the money would be spent has not been determined, although Crowley said it could go to update equipment.

He would not disclose how much CHP paid UH on an annual basis.

Both Crowley and Vick said patient care won’t suffer because of the end of the partnership.

“Community Health Partners has always been strong in cancer treatment with a good reputation,” Crowley said.

Three part-time cancer doctors who work for UH and four administrative staff will transfer to other UH facilities, but they will be replaced by new staff, Crowley said. Several other cancer doctors will remain with the hospital, he said.

For the past five years, the center has been home to cancer treatment, research and clinical trials. But the research and experimental treatments at the center were largely funded and handled by UH money and personnel, which no longer will be available at the new Community Cancer Center.

Crowley said some research may still be conducted at the center.

The hospitals have already begun contacting patients to inform them of the change and present them with options to continue their treatment. Crowley acknowledged the change might not make some patients happy.

Vick said fewer than 20 patients are undergoing clinical trials and experimental treatments at the Elyria facility, which will no longer be available there. Instead, those patients will be allowed to continue their treatment at UH’s Westlake Health Center.

Vick would not, however, say the two former partners would now be competing with each other in what some have complained is an oversaturated health care market in Lorain County.

EMH Regional Medical Center officials have complained about CHP’s plans to build a new hospital. The Cleveland Clinic also plans to open a new facility in Avon, and there are numerous other small hospitals and medical facilities throughout the county.

“We see the opportunity to serve the patients in that area,” Vick said.

Ray Noble, a Republican running as a write-in candidate for mayor in Elyria, leads a cancer support group at the center. He said he believes the cancer treatment at the facility won’t suffer despite the end of the partnership.

“I don’t think it’s going to have any effect at all,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.