Large Crowd Celebrates Medicare, Rallies For Lakewood Hospital
Over 200 people gathered at Lakewood Park on July 30th to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare, and to rally in support of saving Lakewood Hospital. The birthday event was one of many organized around the nation by National Nurses United. There were over 40 events in 29 states. Lakewood was selected as the host for the Northern Ohio event as a way to demonstrate opposition to the planned closing of Lakewood Hospital.
Event organizer, Michelle Mahon, explained why Medicare is so important to both Lakewood and the nation. "In 1965 before Medicare was passed, nearly half of the elderly in the United States lacked health insurance coverage. Today, just 2% of those over 65 are uninsured,” she said. "Guaranteeing access to healthcare is just one more way to show respect for our elderly citizens."
The event, which happened on a lovely sunny day, included a picnic, Dixieland band, and speakers. Reverend Charles Brown, a Lakewood resident, spoke about the importance of healthcare in his faith. He reminded the crowd that Jesus was a healer to all, regardless of financial means or pre-existing conditions. The Brice Dixieland Express entertained the crowd during both the picnic and the march.
Lakewood legend Gary Rice, an Observer contributor since our founding, stole the show. He played banjo, sang, and offered a passionate talk in support of Medicare and Lakewood Hospital. State Senator Mike Skindell, a candidate for Lakewood Mayor this fall, spoke to the crowd about the importance of protecting Medicare. Skindell has been a passionate opponent of the Lakewood Hospital closing plan, and has pledged to keep it open if elected Mayor.
The event was capped by a march to Lakewood Hospital to protest City Hall's plan to demolish the facility. Hospital supporters wore red and carried signs, frequently getting positive honks from passing cars and trucks. The band (along with Gary Rice) provided music for the march, entertaining motorists and passersby, as well as hospital supporters.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1