Healthcare Forum Attracts Capacity Crowd

Lakewood residents were invited to a free forum discussing Healthcare and Lakewood Hospital's Future on Tuesday, July 27 at the Winton Place. A panel of five residents consisting of Dr. Terence Kilroy, Dr. Ashoka Nautiyal, Marguerite Harkness, CPA,  Attorney Brian Essi, and Tom Monahan, vice chairman of Save Lakewood Hospital spoke on the subject of healthcare in Lakewood.

Tom Monahan covered the over 100 years of the history of Lakewood Hospital including the challenging years during the Depression, the 1996 Lease Agreement with the Cleveland Clinic and ending with the vote of the City Council to accept the Master Agreement that gave the hospital to the Cleveland Clinic. Mr. Monahan concluded with the comment, "Council folks keep saying that 'we had no choice.' That truly is a stunning admission from these folks that they really don't understand what or how to do their job. The Cleveland Clinic could not have gotten away with this deed without their consent."

Marguerite Harkness' economic assessment consisted of three facts:1) $280 million dollars will disappear from Lakewood's annual  economic output due to the 1100 employees who no longer work and spend in Lakewood restaurants, grocery stores etc. These people are now spending their money in other communities and causing jobs to leave our town. 2) Lakewood Hospital was making a profit until it was mismanaged by the Cleveland Clinic who orchestrated the losses. 3) The Emergency Room has been downsized to half its former capacity; and even with Fairview Hospital’s ER, there will be 10,000 ER visits that can’t be accommodated in Cleveland Clinic facilities. That is, 10,000 ER visits with nowhere to go.

Dr. Nautiyal's comments centered on the theme that "Patients come first, not corporate interests." The Cleveland Clinic based their move on their business plan, not on the health concerns of 52,000 Lakewood residents. Dr. Nautiyal considered the members of the panel as the "Conscience of Lakewood." When asked about the benefits of the deal, the best Dr. Nautiyal could come up with was "the Cleveland Clinic would install an art gallery in their new building."

Dr. Kilroy, a pulmonologist, differentiated between soft medical care and hard medical care. Soft medical care is eating right and exercising. Hard medical care is what you need when you have a heart attack or stroke and need immediate medical intervention at an emergency room that is connected to a hospital. In the Master Agreement there will be no emergency room attached to a hospital.

Attorney Brian Essi gave his interpretation from a purely financial perspective. He stated that Lakewood gave the Cleveland Clinic $120 million dollars in assets and got very little in return and that this was a poorly negotiated deal that needs to be undone.

Finally, questions were answered by the panel. Many of the questions centered on what will happen when the November ballot referendum repeals the ordinance. The panel members agreed that repealing the deal could result in compensation for the hospital assets and it would create true opportunities for healthcare options in Lakewood.

For those who missed the live forum, it will soon be on You Tube for all to view. 

On November 8 there will be a referendum on the ballot that will allow the citizens of Lakewood to have their say about the ordinance passed by city council. A vote against the ordinance will undo the Master Agreement and re-open the door for comprehensive healthcare options for all Lakewood residents.

Bonnie Sikes

Lakewood resident

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Volume 12, Issue 16, Posted 6:37 PM, 08.02.2016