SOUTHWEST GENERAL HEALTH CENTER (formerly Southwest General Hospital), founded in 1921, continued in the 1990s to operate one of the most active emergency departments in Cuyahoga County, seeing over 34,000 patients in its Emergency Dept. in 1994. Southwest General was one of the first community hospitals in the U.S. founded by public subscription, with 8 original beds. An acute-care, not-for-profit general hospital, it has, for 60 years, received community support through a capital-improvements levy.

Southwest General was created by 6 doctors, including Dr. H. B. Kirtland. During the influenza epidemic of 1919, residents of BEREA, in the southwestern corner of Cuyahoga County, realized that Cleveland hospitals (see HOSPITALS AND HEALTH PLANNING) were too far away. They raised $100,000 to fund the hospital, originally known as Sprague House, in the former home of M. A. Sprague. A new hospital, with 32 beds, was built on Bagley Rd. in Berea in 1925. Until 1959 it was officially known as Berea Community Hospital.

The hospital has been supported by 6 communities: BROOK PARK, STRONGSVILLE, MIDDLEBURG HTS., BEREA, OLMSTED FALLS, and OLMSTED TWP. By 1971 additions had increased bed capacity to 180. The name changed in 1959 to Southwest Community Hospital, and in 1968 to Southwest General Hospital. Construction of a new 235-bed hospital began in 1973 on a 20-acre site on Bagley Rd. in Middleburg Hts. The new hospital, opened in 1975, was supported by 1-mill levies voted by the 6 communities. Costing $15 million, the facility had medical, surgical, obstetrical, and pediatric beds, as well as intensive- and coronary-care units. It also operated an out-patient clinic and professional building. In 1980 the hospital was filled to capacity several times.

Expansion, begun in the early 1980s, was planned to include a new 3-wing addition, including 25 beds for patients in a new psychiatric department. Southwest General Hospital changed its name to Southwest General Health Center in 1994. In 1995 the 336-bed facility offered SPORTS MEDICINE, a laser center, and a detoxification unit, among other services.

Article Categories