Is There A Middle Regarding The Hospital Issue?

The last time I wrote an article about the Hospital issue, I was involved with Save Lakewood Hospital. Needless to say, it was a brief involvement, and I am not writing now to choose sides nor badmouth anyone on either side of this local issue. Last night, I attended my first Lakewood Democratic Club meeting, and observed what ensued. 

I have been living in Lakewood for soon-to-be two years this October, and since then I have been learning about local issues affecting this city and its citizens. Again, I was briefly involved with Save Lakewood Hospital which is now renamed Keep Lakewood Strong. I voted for the last referendum about the issue because I care about healthcare rights and remain active in improving healthcare in this country. However, in watching what ensued at the Lakewood Democratic Club meeting, and that meeting being my first, and seeing friends and neighbors there, I saw with my fresh eyes, how divisive this Hospital issue has become and what it is doing to my city. 

My question is- what is the middle of this argument? Can a middle compromise be achieved between City Council and Keep Lakewood Strong advocates? 

Everyone at that meeting last night and everyone who wasn't at that meeting last night is my neighbor. The upside is that amid all differing opinions and beliefs, it was nice to see a group of citizens so fired up about issues that affect their daily living in a city they call their home. Lakewood still amazes me with how politically coherent and passionate its constituency is. 

But, I see a need for a middle. I see a need for compromises to be made on both sides to move on and make it so everyone can try to be happy and be proud to live in Lakewood, and that more people come into this city and have everything they need to live here as long as countless members of the Lakewood Democratic Club who want their voices heard in the decision-making of that organization without neglect or gerrymandering among themselves because of the fire that is burning on both ends of this Hospital issue. 

Now, in my brief involvement with Keep Lakewood Strong, it is not that I didn't understand the anger many citizens of Lakewood feel regarding the loss of their Hospital and the neglect of a usually transparent city government to not let citizens be a part of the decision-making, fact-sharing, and political tete-a-tetes that was common before the city government's decision regarding keeping Lakewood Hospital open. I see the passionate effort of citizens to preserve or at least maintain some semblance of the healthcare they are used to, that they had with one of the last remaining city hospitals to remain available to them. 

At the same time, I see the other side of the argument. In the last paper-pressed edition of the Observer, a local nurse wrote coming from the health care field about how outpatient is in and inpatient is out. I know that the Clinic is the biggest non-profit in the Greater Cleveland area and usually, there is no winning against the behemoth. I also know that citizens who pay attention to election cycles know that a political movement gains further traction when it has the clout of an election win. The last referendum on the city ballot did not pass. People pay attention to wins and losses whether political or recreational, and to be fair to the other side of the argument, no one likes to be told it is their fault by the other side and that those who recognize these facts are complicit in enabling the corruption of the one episode of non-transparency in recent city government history. Also, since the argument has been the same since last year, there is no point in continuing to raise your voice in anger as if people aren't hearing the side that wants to keep Lakewood strong in the healthcare department. People are hearing. People are reading. The choice does rest with the individual as to whom and how they choose to voice their anger constructively. 

So, back to my question, which I hope is read by both sides, what is the middle of this Hospital argument? Can a middle compromise be reached? Just from what I have been reading for the past year and three-fourths of the year the argument is very black and white with its absolutism. 

My idea, which comes from listening to all sides and anyone willing to engage with me on the streets and in my patronage of Lakewood's cultural landmarks and public services, is that Keep Lakewood Strong should replace the pitchforks with a pitch to City Council to form a Citizens Advisory Committee on the issue of healthcare in the city of Lakewood. In return, the City Council will represent their citizenry through this Committee, provided the Committee is the connection between citizen and council, and will open the idea of the Committee being allowed to consider other options for other healthcare systems in the area. Also, considering it is possible that the current referendum may still not pass, I do think it would great for City Council to offer a compromise to the Clinic for the presence of this committee and the right for soliciting other healthcare system options for the city of Lakewood. In return, the Keep Lakewood Strong advocates could agree to a settlement to drop the lawsuits, because to the average Lakewood citizen, it is costing the taxpayer's money and we wonder why rent has gone up in the city to balance out the costs of the lawsuit. 

Again, this is just a proposal for a middle compromise between City Council and Keep Lakewood Strong advocates. Everyone in this city is my neighbor and there is validity to both sides of the argument, but it is time we all move on and be fair to ourselves. I hope there can be a middle compromise achieved, because it is both taxing and aggravating to this Lakewood citizen to see such vitriol. I'd rather watch the news regarding the presidential and state election cycle. I respect any politically conscious person in my city of Lakewood. It's why I am still here. Let's work on a middle solution please. 

Tim Collingwood

I am a Lakewood resident of the past year, who writes blogs for Tumblr, and have written blogs for TCM, was the Akron Classic Movie Examiner. I would like to write about issues pertaining to social justice issues and how they are affecting the Lakewood community. I believe in the power of citizen journalism, and as a reader of Lakewood Observer, I like that I get it.

Read More on Lakewood Health Care
Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 4:10 PM, 08.30.2016