Bare Bones Is Unacceptable - Vote AGAINST 64
Lakewood cannot rely on Issue 64 to deliver needed health care, warns Yvonka Hall, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition.
Under this controversial plan, up for a vote in November, the city would permanently cede its publicly owned hospital in exchange for a private health center and “freestanding” emergency room. Hall says that she has studied multiple similar hospital replacements in the region, and that they always result in radically reduced health services.
A health center typically provides only 15% of the services offered in a hospital setting, Hall says, adding that eliminating 85% of medical services from a community leaves whole populations “floating in the wind.”
“If you skip 85% of a test, you get a straight-up ‘F,’” Hall suggests.
The services that remain after hospitals are replaced tend to be “bare-bones,” says Hall. “These are the services that can make the most money,” she says, and as a result the facilities are often overbooked.
Hall refers to these left-behind health centers as “care access facilities,” explaining that they are similar to an urgent care office—with less urgency. “Care access centers typically don't see patients without an appointment,” she says.
For communities that are considering a health center for local care, Hall advises that above all “you need a complete and comprehensive list of services” to be provided. As she notes, however, the Cleveland Clinic is invariably reluctant to offer such lists. Issue 64 does not guarantee that any specific services, including emergency services, will remain in Lakewood.
Echoing the comments of Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek and others, Hall says that recent years’ hospital closings have all followed similar stories of abandoning community needs. Unlike the neighbors of Huron Hospital and others, however, Lakewood owned its hospital, and the deal which closed it, is now subject to a public vote.
Based on Hall’s comments, Lakewood can best protect healthcare in our community by voting AGAINST 64.