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CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland has plans to create a health campus in the city’s Central neighborhood, aiming to build up medical and social services around the St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

The charity and ministries involved control more than 17 acres in the area of the East 22nd Street hospital. The hope is that development will also help the entire neighborhood.

“We hope that this campus becomes a really wonderful destination for this community,” said Susanna Krey, senior vice president of the Sisters of Charity Health System and president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

As part of its planning, Sisters of Charity has hired MASS Design Group of Boston to develop plans. The firm will first talk with residents and leaders at organizations in the area to determine what services are needed.

A news release said the design process is aimed at “addressing social determinants, poverty and racial segregation, and upward mobility.”

Krey said MASS Design will finish collecting feedback by the end of this year. After that the firm will create a plan for the campus.

Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and a former president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System, said the plans are in line with the Sisters of Charity’s 170-year record in Cleveland, much of which involves work to help the poor. St. Vincent, built in 1865, is the city’s first permanent general hospital.

The hope is that other organizations that provide educational and health services will set up shop near the hospital.

Karam and Krey did not provide a timeline to build out the campus. Karam also said the charity does not yet know how much the campus will cost to develop.

However, “our anticipation is financing will come,” Karam said. “The opportunity will be there because many funders are interested. They acknowledge that social determinants have an interest in success for people, to achieve health.”

While the organizations have been planning the health campus for some time, Krey said the coronavirus pandemic, during which many people became isolated, uncovered the need for additional mental health services among the the populations they serve.

“The notion really is steeped in the challenges the community saw around COVID,” Krey said. “COVID laid so bare the health disparities the community has experienced, especially our Black and brown neighbors.”

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