Hospital, Recreation & Land Development Interests Conflict
Over 400 documents posted on onelakewood.com and others recently uncovered, reveal that as early as August, 2013, Mayor Summers, Council President Madigan and Councilman Bullock, [who were all part of the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) “Select Committee,”] considered plans for a Family Health Campus at the hospital site along Detroit Ave with other developments behind it.
By October 2103, the lead option considered was to “take down” Lakewood Hospital in favor of a “Family Heath Campus” with “potential development of additional health and wellness facilities or other attractive economic development elements.”
The plans were so far along that in November, 2013, Tom Gable, LHA’s chairman told one member of City Council that LHA and the Clinic would be at City Council in January, 2014 to propose an FHC to replace the hospital.
RECREATION AGENDA INTERTWINED WITH HOSPITAL DEBATE
Public records reveal that in December, 2013, Summers and Madigan supported a proposal to create a Recreation Task Force. Shortly after that, on February 18, 2014, at a Lakewood Board of Education meeting, Summers discussed a recreation center being built on the Lakewood Hospital site. By April, 2014, Summers and City Council made appointments to the Recreation Task Force.
A newly uncovered document dated May 15, 2014 reveals detailed drawings and plans for a “Health and Wellness Campus” on the hospital site that included a community wellness center with a pool/gym, a park and mentioned as potential affiliates the Lakewood YMCA (as manager), Lakewood City Schools and Lakewood Recreation Department. Over 8 months later, on January 28, 2015, Summers said concerning the development of hospital land: “The question is what do we do with those 4 acres and the options really are residential, retail or commercial….we have just begun to think about 4 acres of redevelopment downtown….something else could happen there…it could be years in the making.” He made no mention of a wellness campus or recreation center plans.
On February 3, 2015, Mayor Summers attended a Recreation Task Force meeting. He displayed a map of the hospital site with the proposed FHC and green space available for development. He told the task force members that money from the new foundation (proposed by the Clinic, Summers and the LHA) could be used by the Task Force. The task force was told to “Think Big.” So the Mayor tied the Recreation Task Force, the new foundation and the hospital site all together. At an April 15, 2015, forum about what to do with the new foundation money, Summers made no mention of the task force or land development.
PLANS FOR A HOSPITAL ABANDONED EARLIER IN THE PROCESS
In June, 2015 water bills, a Summers letter stated: “Only one party, the Cleveland Clinic, submitted a comprehensive plan.” MetroHealth submitted two proposals—the first was submitted to Summers in May, 2014—Summers only released that proposal in May, 2015 after much public pressure. The second proposal was made in September, 2014 and was just released by City Hall on July 1, 2015 after repeated records requests and only after Metro stepped back from what it described as a “maelstrom” occurring in Lakewood. At City Council on May 4, 2015, Summers said “I am not aware of any second proposal from Metro....I’ve not seen any proposal." Metro’s second proposal included: (1) maintaining Lakewood as a full service, low acuity inpatient hospital, (2) 900 jobs; (3) $100 million in capital improvements and medical technology over ten years.
Back on January 28, 2015, Mayor Summers said concerning Metro: “There was some serious interest on their part strategically on starting off as a family health center and considering whether or not they would consider running it as a community hospital. It was a very exciting possibility and then at the beginning of October they withdrew their interest. So it went away.” The documents reveal that Summers and LHA had others plans for the hospital and land before either of the Metro proposals.
Negotiations with the Cleveland Clinic began in June, 2014. Summers never responded to the second Metro proposal.
SUMMERS/LHA/CLINIC KNEW RISKS, BUT PURSUED AGENDA
Documents dated as early as October, 2013, referred to the need for a “community dialogue” as being “critical” and further identified several risks of the plan being pursued:
- “Risk that current [hospital] staff will get nervous about possible job losses and leave before we are ready to change the scope of the facility.”
- “Risk that once the community begins to understand the changes to the scope of services, that they will stop coming to [Lakewood Hospital] and operating losses will escalate significantly.”
- “Risk that the public dialogue about the decision is prolonged and it increases the likelihood of other executions risks occurring.”
All of these things are occurring now. The public dialogue on the FHC portion of plan did not begin until January, 2015 over 16 months after these words were written.
Public dialogue on the land development portion of the plan has not yet begun.