Cleveland's baby boomers will soon have better healthcare in the neighborhoods that need it most

According to the latest U.S. Census data, almost 20 percent of Clevelanders are over age 60, with another 15 percent between 50 and 60 years old. Cleveland’s population is aging, and with that comes the need for comprehensive healthcare.

Chicago-based Oak Street Health is answering that call with plans to open three healthcare centers this fall in medically underserved Cleveland neighborhoods—in the Glenville, West Boulevard, and Lee Harvard neighborhoods. The centers will serve Medicare-eligible patients with a healthcare model specifically designed for senior adults. When all three locations are open, Oak Street Health will employ about 100 people in Cleveland.

“The secret sauce is a high-touch patient experience between the patient and the provider,” explains Dr. Olaoluwa Fayanju, who will serve as Oak Street’s senior medical director for the Ohio region, leading the primary care and complex care teams. “For patients over 65, it’s particularly important that they have more time to tell their stories, that we spend more time to hear what’s going on before they land in the hospital.”

Fayanju says the Oak Street model pairs each patient with one provider and a team of caregivers. “It allows the providers time to engage with the patient and treat the patient in a holistic way,” he says. “When Oak Street centers arrive at a location, they are a center of safety and peace. It’s really been an important part of the fabric of the neighborhoods we join.”

Founded in 2013, Oak Street now has 25 locations across Indiana and in the Greater Chicago and Detroit areas. Its model of care involves meeting with patients three times as often as traditional practices and creating a sense of community at its health centers. “We wanted to be more than just a doctor’s office,” says Fayanju. “We want to be a place to gather, even if you’re not sick.”

In its five years, Oak Street has developed a 94 percent patient retention rate and has reduced Medicare patient hospitalizations by 44 percent, says Fayanju. He says it’s all based on close relationships with the patients.

“I say to my patients, ‘Even if you’re a triathlon runner, I’m going to see you every three months,’” he says. “Even if we don’t have a lot to talk about, sometimes you identify a need and can get ahead of it. Patients come back to our centers because they become a part of our family.”

Additionally, Oak Street provides transportation to and from appointments for all its patients. “We don’t want transportation to be a barrier,” Fayanju says, adding that care providers are available around the clock for patients.

Fayanju says plans are to open the new Oak Street Health locations beginning in September through the end of the year. The staff will accept any Medicare or Medicare Advantage patient. The three locations are in Glenville (10553 St Clair Ave.), Lee Harvard (4071 Lee Rd.), and West Boulevard (10604 Lorain Ave.).

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Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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