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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

VETERAN'S ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The VETERAN'S ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER in Cleveland comprises 2 facilities: the Cleveland Veteran's Administration (VA) Hospital (called by its location, WADE PARK), which was, in the 1980s, a 780-bed general medical and surgical hospital, and the Brecksville Veteran's Administration Hospital, a 999-bed psychiatric hospital. The two hospitals merged in 1971. The Cleveland VA Hospital developed from the CRILE HOSPITAL, opened in PARMA HEIGHTS in 1943 as a temporary army hospital. It was taken over by the VA in June 1946 and converted into a 1,000-bed general medical and surgical hospital to serve all veterans. It became known as the Crile Veteran's Administration Hospital (also as Crile General Hospital), named after Dr. GEORGE CRILE†. In the year of its establishment, the hospital affiliated with UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS CASE MEDICAL CENTER; later it affiliated with the medical school of Western Reserve Univ. (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.). Specialized services included an ophthalmology department, a ward and rehabilitative program for paraplegics, and reconstructive hand surgery. Many of the hospital's early patients were long-term.

In 1948 the VA acquired a 20-acre site on East Blvd. near Wade Park, where it planned to build a new 500-bed general hospital. The plan, alternately shelved and revived, was finally approved in 1960 by the House Appropriations Committee, with critical support from Congresswoman FRANCES PAYNE BOLTON†. When the new facility opened in June 1964, the old hospital was vacated; it was later sold to Cuyahoga County. Under its first director, Dr. Benjamin Wells, the medical and surgical hospital also maintained an out-patient clinic for veterans. It added specialized services, including an artificial-kidney center (1965) and an intensive-care unit (1969). Problems occasionally developed from overcrowding and a lack of registered nurses (see NURSING). A $2.3 million wing, added in 1974, increased the number of beds and housed a research facility.

The Brecksville VA Hospital opened as a neuropsychiatric hospital in 1961 in a new $23 million facility on Brecksville Rd. It assumed the administrative duties of the Broadview Hts. VA Hospital (est. 1940), a 324-bed tuberculosis hospital. Because of declining occupancy, the BROADVIEW HEIGHTS facility closed in 1965 and was transferred to the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene. Equipped with a swimming pool, gymnasium, and bowling alley, the Brecksville Hospital opened with 999 beds and a full-time workforce of 950. During its first year it admitted 944 patients and discharged 260. Adopting the "unit care" concept, the hospital was organized into independent 300-bed units. In the late 1960s the Brecksville hospital gained national recognition for its program of successfully returning veterans to employment. It, introduced a program to rehabilitate alcoholics (1969), a Drug Abuse Center (1971), and treatment for compulsive gamblers--linked to combat stress.

The Cleveland VA Hospital merged with the Brecksville VA Hospital to improve patient care, make better use of expensive, specialized equipment and scarce personnel, and lower costs. All surgical cases from BRECKSVILLE and those patients with neurological disorders transferred to Cleveland. The regional operation encompassed most of northern Ohio. During the 1970s, the Cleveland hospital accepted nonveterans for the first time, primarily patients suffering from spinal-cord injuries. Brecksville VA unveiled a program to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans of the VIETNAM WAR (1984).

In 1995 the Wade Park facility was installing a linear accelerator and an MRI scanner for diagnostic imaging, and planning a 3-year expansion and renovation that would add an ambulatory care unit, a parking garage, and double the size of the spinal cord unit. In addition to the Brecksville and Wade Park facilities, which together had 947 beds, it operated a 195-bed nursing home and a 160-bed domiciliary for homeless veterans.


Last Modified: 23 Jul 1997 09:47:59 AM

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