It's Past Time For Lakewood To Partially Mitigate Its Error In Demolishing Lakewood Hospital

In 2015 Lakewood citizens had the benefit of an excellent full-service hospital operating in the area of Lakewood often referred to by government officials as Lakewood’s downtown. In those days, if a person had a serious accident, or a heart attack, or a stroke, our excellent EMS could bring that patient to our city’s hospital for emergency medical care in a very few minutes, with no need for further transporting.

Unfortunately, in 2015, the then mayor Michael Summers and the then city council members Mary Louise Madigan, Thomas Bullock, Ryan Nowlin, Cindy Marx, David Anderson, Sam O’Leary and Shawn Juris wrongfully entered into an agreement terminating the City’s contract with the Cleveland Clinic requiring the Clinic to operate that hospital until 2026 as a full-service facility.

Part of Mayor Summers bogus claims to justify closing an excellent full-service hospital a decade before its contract with the Clinic was over was his claim that citizens would still have an emergency department at the same location.

While the medical office building the Cleveland Clinic constructed at Belle and Detroit has a sign saying Emergency, too many people seeking emergency care there are told that they can’t be taken care of at that facility and that they needed to go to a hospital that can actually provide the required care.

When ambulances bring patients to the Belle Avenue “Emergency” facility, they don’t wait to see if the patient might need to go to a hospital. They simply deliver the patient and leave. Some patients who arrive expecting to be treated at that “Emergency” facility wind up getting instructed by medical personnel that that facility doesn’t have what is needed to provide required care and that they should take an ambulance and go to a hospital. Being told by medical personnel that they can’t be helped at the “Emergency” facility to which they were taken does not help the trauma being experienced by the patient.

More trauma is experienced when patients get the bill for the second ambulances. Some ambulances charge more than $1,000.00 for that second transport whether they provided any medical service on the way or not. Lakewood citizens should not have to pay for a second ambulance. If Lakewood still had a hospital a second ambulance ride would not be necessary.

Lakewood has up to four EMS teams. Under ordinary circumstances one should be available for transporting Lakewood citizens from the inadequate “Emergency” facility on Belle Avenue to a hospital that has an actual emergency department.

The City could seek grant money from Lakewood Health Foundation to cover the expense of such hospital runs. After all, the many millions of dollars funding the Lakewood Health Foundation came from the Lakewood Hospital Foundation that existed to help keep Lakewood Hospital an excellent City asset.

Closing the hospital down knowing it could still be in operation was wrong. Tearing down property worth over one hundred million dollars was wrong.

The City has a duty to mitigate its wrong prior action, at least to a small extent, by relieving its citizens from the expense of paying for a second ambulance.

Edward Graham is a former member of Lakewood City Council.

Edward Graham

Former Member Lakewood City Council

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Volume 18, Issue 17, Posted 10:55 AM, 09.22.2022