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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SAINT LUKES MEDICAL CENTER

SAINT LUKES MEDICAL CENTER

SAINT LUKE'S MEDICAL CENTER (formerly Saint Luke's Hospital), was founded on 30 January 1894 as Cleveland General Hospital. The articles of incorporation of the College Building & Hospital Assn. (later ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL ASSN.) were signed that day, and that fall Cleveland General Hospital opened with 75 beds, on Woodland Ave. near E. 20th St. The hospital's main purpose was to provide clinical training for students from the Medical Department of Wooster Univ. (see MEDICINE), and a training school for nurses (see NURSING). The incorporators were Dr. GUSTAV WEBER, Leonard Schlather, James B. Parker, and Drs. MARCUS ROSENWASSER, Henry W. Kitchen, and Charles B. Parker. All were connected with the Medical Department of Wooster Univ. (Cleveland). Important early figures at St. Luke's included Sister Caroline Kirkpatrick, superintendent of the Training School for Nurses, FRANCIS FLEURY PRENTISS, one of the first presidents, and his wife, ELISABETH SEVERANCE ALLEN PRENTISS, who provided vital financial support. In 1906 under the leadership of Francis Prentiss, Cleveland General was renamed St. Luke's Hospital. The year before, the medical staff had affiliated with the medical department of Ohio Wesleyan Univ., a Methodist institution. St. Luke's purpose was now to "conduct a general hospital and school of nursing." In 1908 the hospital moved to a new 120-bed facility on Carnegie Ave. near E. 66th St. By 1910 bed capacity had increased to 180, and the Cleveland Maternity Dispensary was added. The hospital moved in 1927 into a new facility, largely financed by Elisabeth Prentiss, on Shaker Blvd. near E. 116th St. At this time the hospital had approx. 40 physicians on the medical staff, 12 on the house staff, and 125 nurses.

Following the Depression, St. Luke's embarked on a program of expansion that continued until the early 1980s. In 1942, a central service wing was added, housing Medical Research, Surgical Research, the Dietary Department, Purchasing, and Accounting. Completion of the Nurses' Residence in 1948 freed the East Wing and enabled the hospital to increase its bed capacity. Two other buildings were completed in 1963 and 1975. St. Luke's also affiliated with other area nursing schools, including CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE (1964) and Kent State University (1968); its own school of nursing closed in 1970. Over the years, St. Luke 's achieved distinction through several of its departments. Early graduates of the Training School for Nurses were the first to practice public-health nursing in the city. Under, Dr. ARTHUR SKEEL, the Obstetrics Division from 1910-38 was the most advanced and innovative unit of its kind in Cleveland. The Department of Research, organized in 1952, originated studies in emphysema and cardiocirculatory problems and went on to develop the first heart-lung machine.

In Sept. 1992 St. Luke's merged with MetroHealth Medical Center, part of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY HOSPITAL SYSTEM, becoming MetroHealth St. Luke's Medical Center. The merger was dissolved in May 1993 but an affiliation between the two continued. In June 1993 St. Luke's Hospital became St. Luke's Medical Center.

In 1994 St. Luke's Medical Center suffered a major setback when it lost its contract to treat Kaiser Permanente patients, which represented 30% of their patient population, and as a result laid off 213 workers in January. In July of that year it entered into an agreement with BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF OHIO that would give the insurance company a controlling interest in the hospital, while allowing the hospital to accept patients from Blue Cross & Blue Shield's "Super Blue" health management plan and take advantage of the insurance company's management and information systems. In 1995 St. Luke's Medical Center had 474 beds, and remained a major teaching and research hospital.

In May of 1999 the hospital closed its level two trauma center and announced that it would close its medical and surgical operations by the end of June. Initially, there were plans to transfer St. Luke's 120-bed mental health facility with a stand-alone emergency room. This plan was scrapped and the hospital fully closed in the summer of 1999. St. Luke's employed over 800 people at the time of the closure. The building fell into disrepair for many years

In 2013, renovations were completed at the former St. Luke's Hospital building which included low-income housing for seniors, a Boys and Girls Club, a K-8th charter schools, a health clinic, and office space.

Robertson, Josephine. St. Luke's Hospital 1894-1980 (1981).

Pacini, Lauren R. The Ever-Whirling Winds of Change. Artography Press, 2014.