When the clock strikes midnight tonight, St. Thomas Hospital’s emergency department officially will close its doors.
Summa Health System is moving forward with plans to shutter the St. Thomas ER on Sunday and relocate all its emergency services in town to Akron City Hospital, located less than 2 miles away off East Market Street.
A primary-care practice will replace the St. Thomas ER in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood Monday.
The move is part of a recently announced system overhaul, which also includes shutting all inpatient units at Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital later this year.
The St. Thomas emergency department will accept patients until 11:59 tonight, said Cindy Reynolds, vice president of trauma services at Akron City and St. Thomas hospitals.
Patients who arrive in the ER before that time will continue to get care in the unit until 7 a.m. Sunday, she said. Patients remaining in the department then will be transferred via ambulance to the City ER for care.
“All the signs are already up notifying the community and the folks at St. Thomas that there will be a transition time,” she said. “ … We’ve also notified all the surrounding communities and county police and fire.”
Akron Fire Chief Robert Ross said he isn’t expecting problems from the St. Thomas ER closure.
“We certainly believe they are adequately preparing,” he said.
However, he said, the city will monitor to make the loss of an ER doesn’t result in longer wait times for ambulance crews.
“If we’re waiting to turn over a patient, we obviously can’t respond to another call,” he said. “We voiced our concerns and they listened and assured us we shouldn’t have any problems.”
Reynolds said the City ER is ready to handle the extra patients after the St. Thomas emergency department closes.
The City ER is increasing its capacity from 61 to 85 beds as part of the transition, she said. All 28 employees in the St. Thomas emergency department are moving to City.
Emergency services for behavioral health and drug detox will relocate from the St. Thomas to a new, dedicated area within the City ER, Reynolds said.
“The services are going to remain the same,” she said.
A spokesman for Akron General Medical Center said the hospital’s emergency department also is ready for any increases in patients that might result from St. Thomas’ closure.
“We expect a small increase in our main campus emergency department patient volume,” spokesman Jim Armstrong said. “We are fully prepared to treat all patients who come to us for care.”
Starting Monday, Summa will run a primary-care clinic in the former St. Thomas ER while AxessPointe Community Health Center awaits approval from the federal government to open a satellite location there.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.