Save Lakewood Hospital? A Last Message From Dad

Fellow Lakewoodites all:

Many of you knew my dear late father, Robert Rice, a retired Lakewood Schools educator, Lakewood Schools Staff Hall of Fame member, and an active community volunteer for both students and seniors.

On January 14th, the day before that "letter of intent" concerning Lakewood Hospital's future came out, Dad suddenly collapsed on the floor of his bedroom here in Lakewood. For many years, Dad and my family received excellent care from Lakewood Hospital, and indeed, even on that day, Lakewood's paramedics were quickly on the scene; although for my 94 year-old Dad, his time was sadly passing.

Dad and I have both strongly supported Lakewood's public institutions. We played music for the library's re-dedication when it re-opened. We were active with our new schools. We've been active with the Observer Project. We've played our music at the hospital too, and we've often supported numerous civic and cultural activities, whenever we could do so.

We've also tried to support City Hall as well, and I feel that we've generally had a very positive relationship with several mayors, including Mayor Summers. Lakewood Hospital's concerns did not begin with his administration, but now that the ball is in his court, all of us need to help him to see a better way to approach this issue, and I believe that we also need to let the Cleveland Clinic know how strongly we feel about keeping as much of a real hospital as possible in our city; whether they run it, (hopefully, at least until our agreement with them expires), or another hospital organization takes it over someday.

Dad and I had both looked at this developing hospital situation over the years from a fairly personal perspective, since we've both needed more and more hospital services as the years have gone by. For those reasons alone, we both concluded that, for whatever reason, reducing more services at Lakewood Hospital was a very questionable idea. We simply have too big of a city here to go without having at least a basic hospital; covering a wide range of services.

Unlike others who may know, neither Dad nor I could figure out who or what exactly was to blame for Lakewood Hospital's so-called "problems". We felt that they had been increasing for years. Not too long ago, I seem to remember that Lakewood was hoping to expand the hospital all the way over to the corner of Marlowe and Detroit, but that did not happen. Whatever the reasons were for what we felt to be going on, we believed that the loss of more Lakewood Hospital services would be a severe blow to this community, potentially endangering everyone from neighborhood children to needful senior citizens; not to mention accident victims of any age who might unfortunately run into mishaps in our highly populated community.

One thing about health care: It is a very democratic issue; affecting all of us at one point or another. Anyone, who for whatever reason, may previously have wanted to support getting rid of Lakewood Hospital, needs to put themselves in my Dad's place on January 14th; lying on the floor of THEIR bedroom. In Dad's situation, sadly, it was his time, but when it comes your own turn to taste carpet, your very survival may well depend on the expert medical resources that you will have close by in order to assist your immediate needs.

I'm sure that was Dad's opinion, and it is my own, as well.

In all fairness, I have some very good friends who are in favor of getting rid of the present hospital. Their concerns range from a concern about running the risk of losing an emergency room for our city, to another concern that the present situation that we find ourselves in is prohibitively expensive.

With those concerns in mind however, I still do believe that we need to think very carefully before we start tearing down Lakewood Hospital. At the very least, so long as the building stands, we will still have some negotiating strength for Lakewood's medical future. Once it's gone, we will have nothing left to bargain with. That's why Dad and I supported Lakewood Hospital. Saving the hospital is an alternative that may indeed be risky, and perhaps even expensive in the short term, but sometimes in life, risk and investment can produce rewards.

Let's save our hospital.

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 2:57 PM, 10.27.2015