Brecksville Veterans Administration Hospital

Brecksville Veterans Administration Hospital

Brecksville Veterans Administration Hospital is a demolished 999-bed facility that was in operation from 1961 to 2011 in Brecksville, Ohio.






History

The first patient was admitted to the Veterans Administration’s (VA) Broadview Heights Hospital in 1940. 3 The facility is later converted from a general medical and surgical hospital to one focused on tuberculosis treatment.

In June 1946, the VA acquired the Crile Hospital in Parma Heights, becoming a 1,000-bed general medical and surgical facility. 3 4 It had been built as a temporary facility in 1943 to treat wounded soldiers of World War II. 3 Crile was initially affiliated with University Hospitals and later the medical school at Western Reserve University, and offered specialized services in ophthalmology, a rehabilitative programs for paraplegics and reconstructive hand surgery. 4

Broadview Heights VA Hospital in June 1941. Photographed by Walter Kneal.

The VA acquired a 20-acre site on East Boulevard near Wade Park to build a new 500-bed general hospital in 1948. 4 The plan was shelved over funding concerns but was finally approved in 1960 by the House Appropriations Committee. The 786 bed Wade Park VA Hospital 3 opened in June 1964. 4 It prompted the closure of the Crile VA Hospital.

In 1956, construction began on the 999-bed, $23 million Brecksville VA Hospital near Cleveland for treatment of neuropsychiatric patients. 3 4 It opened in 1961 and boasted a swimming pool, gymnasium, and bowling alley and employed 950 workers. 4

The Brecksville hospital adopted the “unit care” concept and was organized into independent 300-bed units. 4 Early on, North Coast was heralded as a pioneer in the treatment of veterans. It introduced a program to rehabilitate alcoholics in 1969, started a drug abuse center in 1971, and began a treatment program for compulsive gamblers shortly after. All three ills were common with returning veterans due to combat stress. It cumulated with the addition of a program to treat post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans of the Vietnam War in 1984. Additionally, Brecksville became the first to establish a domicile for homeless veterans. 3

The Brecksville VA Hospital assumed the administrative duties of the Broadview Heights Hospital before it closed due to declining patient numbers in 1965. 4

After operating as separate facilities, each with its own budget and director, the Brecksville and Wade Park hospitals merged in 1971. All surgical cases from Brecksville and those patients with neurological disorders transferred to Wade Park. 4

In 1981, an investigation concluded that led to the arrest of several employees for stealing drugs from the hospital for resale on the street. 3 In 1986, a former patient returned to the hospital and fatally shot two unarmed police officers. That led hospital guards to be fully trained and armed.

A 1988 congressional report noted that Brecksville had to shut down more than a third of its patient beds due to a shortage of nurses, doctors, and funds. 3

Consolidation

In 2004, the decision was made to consolidate all patient care at the Wade Park campus. 3 To handle the patients from Brecksville and an annual patient load that had more than doubled in the past decade from 39,000 to 100,000, it was decided to renovate and expand Wade Park’s campus at a cost of $526 million. Included was the construction of a $102 million, 222-bed patient tower, a seven-story office building, a 122-bed homeless domicile, and a parking garage.

The new Wade Park facilities were designed to include private and semi-private rooms, each with its own bathroom, an upgrade from four patient bedrooms with one or two bathrooms for an entire ward at Brecksville. 3

The elimination of duplication of services between Brecksville and Wade Park was expected to save the VA $23 million per year. 3

On May 16, 2011, the refreshed and expanded Wade Park VA Hospital was officially dedicated. 3 The Brecksville facility was decommissioned on September 5, the 50th anniversary of its opening day. More than 200 residents and most of the 1,350 workers were transferred from Brecksville to Wade Park. A new outpatient clinic, to replace the one at Brecksville, opened in Parma in January 2012. 3

Redevelopment

In June 2017, the Brecksville city council approved a lease agreement that transferred the rights, duties, and obligations of the VA hospital from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to the city. 2 The city desired to transform the derelict property into a mixed-use development.

The agreement approved was between the city and Veterans Development LLC, a real-estate developer that began leasing the hospital property from the VA in 2009. 2 The VA had chosen the company to develop and manage the consolidation of the VA’s Brecksville and Wade Park hospitals.

In February 2018, after years of negotiations with the VA, the city of Brecksville agreed to a development proposal from DiGeronimo Development, which called for the razing of the former hospital campus and the development of commercial, residential, and light-industrial buildings on site. 6 The project, dubbed Valor Acres, would include retail, restaurants, offices, apartments, and light industrial uses.

In June, DiGeronimo Development agreed to pay the city of Brecksville $5 million over 15 years to redevelop the former VA hospital campus, giving the city $1 million upfront and agreeing to pay the remainder over time as it completes the project over nine phases. 5 The city will transfer ownership of the land in each phase, as development occurs, to DiGeronimo.

Environmental cleanup of Brecksville began in November 2018 with demolition proceeding in early 2019. 5

In February 2020, the Sherwin-Williams Company announced that it would relocate its research and development facility from the Breen Technology Center along the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland and a site in Warrensville Heights to anchor Valor Acres. 7


Buildings

Building 1 (Administration Building)

Building 1 housed the anticoagulation, podiatry, eye, and dental clinics, human resource, and administration offices, and a VA credit union. 1

Building 2 (Outpatient Clinic Building)

Building 2 was home to outpatient clinic functions and included radiology, X-ray, and MRI departments, a pharmacy, and specialty clinics including cardiology, dermatology, neurology, and nutrition. It was originally known as the Treatment Building.

Building 4 (Domiciliary)

Building 4 housed homeless veterans.

Building 5 (Outpatient Mental Health Building)

Building 5 regarded outpatient mental health services and included psychology, recreational and occupational therapy services. 1

Building 6

Building 6 served as a nursing home. 1

Building 7

Building 7 served as a nursing home. 1

Building 22

Building 22 housed a swimming pool and gymnasium. 1

Building 23, 24 and 87

Building 23 featured a patient cafeteria and dining hall while the adjoining Building 24 featured a barbershop, a six-lane bowling alley, a canteen, a library, a recreation room, a retail shop, and a theatre. 1 Building 87 functioned as a warehouse.

Buildings 44, 45, 46, 40, 70, 71 and 74

Buildings 44 and 45 were dedicated to the maintenance of the hospital complex while Building 70 was the coal-fired power plant.






Further Reading


Sources

  1.  “Map – Brecksville Campus.” Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 Mar. 2010. Article.
  2. Sandrick, Bob. “Brecksville close to acquiring former hospital campus from Veterans Affairs.” Plain-Dealer [Cleveland], 21 Jun. 2017.
  3. Albrecht, Brian. “Brecksville Veterans Administration campus ends 50 years of care.” Plain-Dealer [Cleveland], 15 May 2011.
  4. “Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, 2017. Article.
  5. Sandrick, Bob. “Redevelopment of former Brecksville Veterans Affairs hospital to be named Valor Acres.” Cleveland.com, 5 Nov. 2018.
  6. Orlousky, Paul. “Brecksville VA Hospital to be razed, replaced by mixed use development.” WOIO, 14 Feb. 2018.
  7. Grzelewski, Jordyn. “Sherwin-Williams R&D facility will anchor redevelopment of former Brecksville VA hospital.” Cleveland.com, 7 Feb. 2020.

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