An Open letter to LEAF: Please Vote Against Issue 64
There is no more respected voice in Lakewood on issues of sustainability, health and local resilience than Lakewood Earth and Food Community (LEAF). The deal that closed Lakewood Hospital impacts all of these issues, in predominantly negative ways. I would like to ask LEAF’s members to consider joining opponents of this deal, which voters will confront in November as Issue 64.
Closing our hospital leaves Lakewood without many important health services. Worse, it leaves Lakewood without the control over local interests that our publicly owned hospital protected. As experience has demonstrated—in East Cleveland, in Sagamore Hills, and in Lakewood—a private multinational will pay lip-service to what’s best for communities even while transferring away resources that people depend on.
In Lakewood, this means not only lifesaving medical services, but a resource equally important to most people’s wellbeing: nearly 1,000 jobs. The reintroduction of those jobs at sites outside of Lakewood, meanwhile, only underscores this plan’s most serious harm to LEAF’s mission. As environmental sustainability inherently requires both local action and a holistic outlook, the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital must be considered within a regional context.
In this context, the deal has nothing to do with a changing need for hospital services, and everything to do with sequestering those services in the most affluent zip codes. Shutting down Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital and opening a private hospital in Avon cannot be judged separately in matters of sustainability. If we are to steer ourselves away from unhealthy and environmentally costly development and lifestyles, we need to promote compact, walkable cities like Lakewood. The efforts of LEAF exemplify this planning for tomorrow. In contrast, transferring hospital services to a car-dependent exurb exemplifies the worst features of failed models.
Even if part of this plan is outside the direct control of Lakewood, we can still pursue better options than simply conforming to a harmful trend. Our city and region need community leaders to step forward, today, and help make that choice clear. I hope the members of LEAF will respond to this need, and oppose the choice of sprawl and outsourcing by voting against Issue 64.
Thank you for your ongoing good work.
Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.