LHA Trustees Need To Do Their Job

The Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) Board of Trustees has the job of overseeing the Cleveland Clinic (CCF) as managers of Lakewood Hospital for the citizens of Lakewood.

The Board of Trustees consists of a mix of Cleveland Clinic (CCF) appointees and City of Lakewood appointees. The Board of Trustees is heavily influenced by CCF---20 of the 23 Trustees must be approved by CCF prior to becoming Trustees. Because of this, they can not be objective. LHA is not the proper body to determine the future of healthcare in Lakewood.

The Trustees have failed to act as an independent Board to hold CCF as management accountable for managing the hospital per the written legal agreements. They have allowed CCF to transfer programs and services away from Lakewood thereby allowing CCF to threaten the long term stability of the hospital.

The Trustees compounded their failures when they accepted the narrative that market trends, rather than CCF, threaten the hospital’s future viability. They made a bad decision in January by announcing a plan to close the hospital under the auspices that they were somehow transforming healthcare in Lakewood into a futuristic model that would magically make Lakewood the “Healthiest City in America” with no need for a hospital. Remarkably, previously withheld documents, just recently uncovered, reveal that it was known at the time of the planning of the “transformation” that CCF would need to invest in and benefit from the expansion of their Fairview Hospital to satisfy Lakewood’s needs for a traditional hospital if Lakewood closes.

Despite posting a net profit of over $2.5 million in 2014, the hospital began losing money immediately after the “transformation” announcement. While the Trustees’ decision and announcement itself contributed to the losses, the losses were exacerbated by the Trustees’ continued failure to properly oversee CCF.

CCF terminated LHA’s lucrative cardio intervention program in February, began hiring away key caregivers for CCF’s other facilities and participated in other acts of omission and commission that were and are harmful to the hospital.

Consequently, the losses have accelerated. It has been reported that the hospital may now be losing as much as $28,000 per day. Some claim losses could total $10 million by the end of the year if the Trustees don’t take action to reverse their decision.

So it is clear that the staggering losses this year are as a result of the Trustees’ decisions and the actions taken by CCF under LHA’s supervision and ostensibly with the Trustee’s acquiescence.

Mayor Summers and Council President Madigan, who are both LHA Trustees, and continue to promote the plan to destroy the hospital, but they clearly don’t have the City Council votes needed to approve this flawed plan.

Since the January announcement: (1) the non-profit group “Save Lakewood Hospital” was formed and is now advancing a charter amendment, as well as an initiative and a referendum if Council somehow approves the plan; (2) a taxpayer lawsuit to stop LHA’s plan was filed with no resolution expected in the near future; (3) State Senator Mike Skindell has entered the mayoral race; (4) Council President Madigan (who favors the plan)  has decided to not run for re-election; and (5) a number of intelligent citizens who have conducted independent research have publicly voiced opposition to the plan to close the hospital.

The reasons that the plan has been resisted and outright rejected by the public are obvious:

  1. It is apparent that LHA Trustees have failed in their primary job as stewards of a fully functioning, well-run hospital for the public. Why should the public trust these same Trustees with a new self-appointed job when it is apparent that they failed in their primary job?
  2. The terms of the plan heavily favor CCF—the actor that the public believes controls and orchestrated the plan. To accept these terms would amount to rewarding the bad behavior that created the crisis in the first place.

The Trustees need to abandon their bad decisions to try to close the hospital. They need to return to their original mission which is to run the hospital by overseeing CCF and assuring that quality hospital services are provided to the citizens of Lakewood per the legal agreements.

Trustees should immediately announce that the hospital is not closing.

They need to begin working with CCF to restore and build programs and services. CCF has the proven ability to shift its personnel and volume among its facilities and can make the hospital whole again which is their only job as managers of Lakewood Hospital.

LHA leadership must be capable of standing up to CCF and working with them toward enforcement of the agreements by which LHA and CCF are both bound.

If LHA leadership--whose ONLY job is to oversee Cleveland Clinic--whose ONLY job is the management of a healthy Lakewood Hospital--cannot lead, then LHA should resign before their poor oversight of CCF does any more damage to the hospital.

LHA Trustees broke it, they need to fix it.

They had one job. If they can't do it, they should not be trusted with any further action whatsoever.

Read More on Lakewood Health Care
Volume 11, Issue 15, Posted 4:37 PM, 07.21.2015