The Covid-19 pandemic has changed daily life for everyone living in Lakewood and all over the world. Changes came so quickly and most times without warning. Concerns for our safety, health and the health of our loved ones has added emotional pressures. Stress, worry, anxiety, and depression can overwhelm any of us at any time. It is very important to keep in mind that there is help and mental health services available for residents of Lakewood at Far West Center.
Lakewood Health Care
My job with the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services is Community Outreach. The entirety of my time in Public Health has been working to ensure that patients, families and marginalized communities all over Northeast Ohio and the tri-state area have the information and emergency services they need to make informed healthcare decisions and can access support in times of crisis.
The goal of my column, One Lakewood Progress, has been this - that residents of Lakewood should have the information necessary to understand policies, whether local, state, or national and how they impact daily life.
This installment of One Lakewood Progress is, perhaps, the most important one I’ve written. We are experiencing unprecedented times in our country, in the trenches of the global pandemic that is COVID-19. This disease touches the daily lives of all Americans, and it presents a very real threat to our health and safety. With talk from the White House of ending the social distancing lockdown on Easter Sunday, people are starting to question whether or not the virus is really that serious to begin with.
Let me disabuse you of that notion.
What is COVID-19? Why is it so dangerous?
CO-ronaVI-rus D-isease 2019 is a respiratory virus first discovered during an outbreak in Wuhan, China in 2019.
COVID-19 is a brand new disease to humankind, which means that we have developed no antibodies against it through prior exposure. Because of this, the risk of infection is universal: if you come into contact with it, you are probably going to be infected.
Since announcing the news of North Coast Health (NCH) and Neighborhood Family Practice’s (NFP) plans to join in a strategic affiliation, so much has happened! During the Fall, both organizations embarked on a detailed and well-orchestrated transition plan. And, on January 1, 2019 North Coast Health started a new year, and our next chapter, as Neighborhood Family Practice North Coast Community Health Center!
Everyone continues to be an important partner along this journey. I look forward to introducing you to the Neighborhood Family Practice community and the meaningful work that is being done across our network of community health centers.Your investment of time, talents and treasures will continue to make it possible for everyone to receive high quality, affordable health care, regardless of their ability to pay. You are an important part of our past, present and future. Working together, as a vital part of the health care safety net, we will continue to meet the needs of our community.
Jean Polster, President and CEO of Neighborhood Family Practice and I invite you to attend a Community Update on Thursday, May 30th at 6:30 p.m. at Roundstone Insurance in Lakewood. We are excited to share updates about our transition and expansion of services, information on the newly established North Coast Health Foundation and the opportunity to answer your questions. Please reserve your seat by emailing email@example.com or by calling 216.281.8945 ext. 285. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
I believe that every Type One Diabetic should have access to insulin.
As of 2018, thirty-one states have legalized medical marijuana, and Ohio is one of them. Ohio’s medical marijuana control program is designed to help patients who suffer from 21 severe and chronic medical conditions. Because many of the qualifying conditions are symptomatic of aging, the fastest growing demographic relying on medical marijuana nationwide is patients aged 54 and older. If you have any of the conditions listed in the sidebar, call Lakewood Medical Clinic to start integrating medical marijuana to improve your quality of life.
It is no surprise that many military veterans face a variety of health issues resulting from physical, emotional and/or psychological concerns. Veterans Day provides the perfect opportunity to show those veterans the appreciation and gratitude they deserve. That’s why Lakewood’s Gold-In-Touch Massage is offering half off full body relaxation massages to veterans throughout the month of December.
Over the years numerous citizens of Lakewood have given generously to help the less fortunate among us. Our time, perhaps the most valuable thing we possess, has been contributed by many individual Lakewood citizens to help others. How many of our citizens have helped to man the Lakewood Christian Service Center to feed the hungry? How many have helped Lakewood Fish to provide transportation to those in need? How many have helped deliver food for Meals on Wheels? How many have mowed a neighbor’s lawn when they were not able to, or taken in their mail when they are away? For most of our citizens, that’s just doing the right thing.
As the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cleveland prepares to launch a groundbreaking experiment in training the primary care physician of the future, endorsement of the project has come in the form of a major grant to train faculty in improved teamwork teaching practices.
O’Neill Healthcare Lakewood, a skilled nursing facility, celebrated the retirement of Joyce Dixon, who was employed at the Lakewood location as a State Tested Nurse Aide (STNA) for more than 40 years! Joyce started working at 13900 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood on September 13, 1977 when she was in her twenties. Joyce touched the lives of thousands of residents and family members during her tenure there. Her commitment to one facility is remarkable and not something you often hear about – especially in the nursing field. Joyce was known to her coworkers to always be smiling, personable, and a friend to all. She exemplified a kind and caring attitude towards her residents that she was lucky to care for. It was a tough decision for Joyce to retire, but she is looking forward to finally devoting time to take care of herself and her family. O’Neill Healthcare is proud to have had Joyce as an employee for the last 40 years. The staff and residents will surely miss her and are more than grateful for her years of service. Best wishes and Happy Retirement, Joyce!
The Living Miracles Peer Empowerment Center and Future Directions, C.O.S. moved into their new location at 2070 West 117th Street in Lakewood in December 2017. The building is the former home of the Mormon church, just across West 117th Street and south of the RTA rapid station. The two mental health organizations will be hosting an open house at the newly renovated space on March 29th, 2018, from 2pm-4pm.
Critical Overnight Respite Offered to Families of Pediatric Patients
Provides 24-Hour Respite to Families of Pediatric Patients
Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital boasts a 26-bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) capable of caring for the most premature or critically ill babies, a 24-bed Pediatric Inpatient Unit and a 13-bed Inpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit. In many cases, families of these patients are simply unable to leave the hospital, often for days at a time. For the past 8 years, the Ronald McDonald Family Room has provided these individuals a place to rest and recharge just steps from their child’s treatment room. Open from 9am – 9pm, 7 days per week, the Room is equipped with a lounge area, full kitchenette stocked with snacks and beverages, children’s play area, computer with internet access, shower access and other things that bring comfort to families so they can remain strong for their children.
This holiday season most of us will spend time gift shopping, visiting with family and enjoying holiday parties. But what if you were a single mother with diabetes and you are struggling with the decision to either purchase insulin or the toy your son wants for Christmas? Or if you are an unemployed veteran who has to choose between putting gas in his car to get to a job interview or purchasing an inhaler to control his asthma? Or maybe you are an uninsured student who is suffering from depression and cannot afford to see a counselor?
ACA open enrollment November 1st – December 15th.
Cleveland Clinic is coming out with their own health plan. As a result Medical Mutual will not have them in network for this product line. Everything available will be HMO plans so people will have to choose which healthcare facility they want to be with. Cleveland Clinic = Oscar Health, University Hospital = Medical Mutual in Cuyahoga County, Medical Mutual will have Mercy Healthcare in Lorain County, not UH. Metro will be the hospital system for Caresource, AMBetter & Molina.
Carl Lishing is a licensed insurance agent with HealthMarkets Insurance Agency.
HealthMarkets Insurance Agency is the d/b/a or assumed name of Insphere Insurance Solutions, Inc. which is licensed as an insurance agency in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not all agents are licensed to sell all products. Service and product availability may vary by state.
Ohio Bill Seeks Safety Limits On Number Of Patients Assigned To RNs - Proposed Law Would Also Set Whistleblower Protection For Nurses
On Feb. 14, registered nurses with National Nurses Organizing Committee-Ohio/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) and elected officials gathered at the Ohio Statehouse, in Columbus, to mark the reintroduction by Senator Michael Skindell of the Ohio Patient Protection Act—a bill which sets specific limits on how many patients nurses can care for at once, in hospitals throughout Ohio.
What if you were offered a career choice that would permit you to begin working in the healthcare field in just two weeks? A jumpstart to a career that costs just $600 which will be mandatorily, 100% reimbursed, by the first Facility that hires you; it’s a State law. STNA (State Tested Nursing Assistant) is that Program and there is one right here in Lakewood, OH!
Obtaining an STNA license is dependent on the successful completion of an Ohio Department of Health- approved Program and subsequent passing of the State Competency Exam. Once the program is completed an STNA Registry card will be issued and the student is on their way to enjoying a bright and shiny new career in the healthcare field. The Lakewood Learning Center offers the STNA Your Way Program monthly; running day & evening classes.
On December 12, 2016, each of the seven members of City Council nominated one person to the “new wellness” Foundation Planning Task Force. City Council plans to nominate 2 additional task force members and Mayor Summers is to nominate 8 members-- so there will be a total of 17 members of the task force. The stated goals of the Foundation Planning Task Force are to: “recommend a process for the creation…discuss and reach preliminary conclusions about the nature, scope, mission and governance of the new foundation”provided for in the Master Agreement passed on December 21, 2015. So it has taken a year to create a task force even though the hospital has been closed since February, 2016 and people are in need of help.
During the October 17, 2016 meeting of Lakewood City Council’s Committee of the Whole, Council President Sam O’Leary toured Cleveland Clinic’s Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit and discuss how Lakewood residents will benefit from new advances in stroke care. Within the next several weeks, following the completion of protocols and training among Cleveland Clinic officials and Lakewood dispatchers and paramedics, the unit will help first responders save lives in Lakewood.
I think that this whole Hospital issue needs to still be centered. I get that the Keep Lakewood Strong activists want Issue 64 not to pass so the city can have a discussion on the issue they couldn't have two years ago to the open public. I also get that City Council and the Lakewood Hospital Association did everything they could to keep it open, even though a small section of Lakewood's citizenry disagrees with that notion. Also, as a two year resident of Lakewood, I think it must be said that from the newcomer's eyes, there has already been a discussion going on regarding health care options in this city. I will probably vote against Issue 64, but out of principle because I believe that people should have a say in their health care options, but I think it must be said to those in between this current ordinance and the last one needs to have questions answered, and I would really appreciate a reply in the form of a rebuttal to this article.
Cleveland Clinic executives may have deceived Lakewood’s officials with a fictional turnaround plan for Lakewood Hospital, according to recent filings in a related lawsuit.
Attorneys representing Lakewood taxpayers have discovered that Clinic executives dismissed their “Vision for Tomorrow” plan as ineffective as early as 2010, after barely one year. The Clinic nonetheless continued public promises that the initiative would ensure Lakewood Hospital’s long-term viability.
According to the most recent plaintiffs’ filing in taxpayers’ ongoing
lawsuit, “the Lakewood City Council, the Lakewood Hospital Foundation donors, and the public were being duped into supporting a mirage.”
In June 2010, the Clinic petitioned City Council’s permission to remove from Lakewood Hospital all trauma and inpatient pediatric care, in order to consolidate those services at Fairview Hospital. The Clinic reassured audiences that under the Vision for Tomorrow, expansion in other services would keep Lakewood Hospital fit.
City Council gave its assent to the proposal on that basis. On June 10, Council agreed that the Cleveland Clinic could remove the two valuable services, which otherwise the Clinic was contractually obligated to provide in Lakewood. Council’s resolution was explicit that this agreement was based on losses to Lakewood Hospital being offset by the overall Vision for Tomorrow plan.
Cleveland Clinic regional hospitals president Dr. David Bronson
privately judged the plan ineffective, however, even though the Clinic originally projected its completion as requiring several years. Bronson has testified in court that in September 2010 he advised then-Mayor Ed Fitzgerald that the Vision for Tomorrow was unlikely to succeed.
Attorneys for Lakewood taxpayers have suggested that in combination, “Those misleading statements are evidence of a deception, in violation of Ohio Revised Code Section 2913.43 Securing Writings by Deception, as well as evidence of fraud…”
St. Alexis, St John’s, Grace Memorial, St Lukes, Booth Memorial, St. Anns, Huron Road, Bay View, St Michaels. That’s an incomplete list of Cleveland area hospitals that have closed in the past twenty five years. Please: if you think that the Cleveland Clinic, like the Borg in StarTrek, conspired to secretly seize and assimilate each of these hospitals into its evil web, then save all of us the trouble; stop reading right now and go put up yard signs. But if you think that these hospital closings are possibly the result of dramatic changes in the way medical services are delivered now, compared to 50 years ago, compounded by the area’s dramatic population losses, then you are in good company - read on.
Those at Lakewood City Hall have stolen our hospital and the millions of dollars connected with it.
Defeating Issue 64 would be an unmitigated disaster. The hospital will not remain standing. You will not bring an outdated facility into the future, bigger and better than before. Dr. Jacob Palomaki's recent letter to the Sun Post Herald is spot on regarding the facts and future of medicine.
Lakewood cannot rely on Issue 64 to deliver needed health care, warns Yvonka Hall, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition.
As a husband and father of five children, I take the health and well-being of my family very seriously. I want my family to have easy access to the best care available.
A major endorsement was delivered recently in support of the FOR Issue 64 position when the Lakewood Executive Committee of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party backed the issue in a landslide vote. A 60 percent majority was needed for endorsement, and the FOR Issue 64 position actually received a majority of greater than 88 percent. The vote means that the Democratic Party officially recommends that Lakewood voters vote FOR Issue 64 on this November’s ballot.
I have committed myself to public service. I work in charity as my living, doing everything I can to meet the needs of the underprivileged, ensuring people can keep their lights on, keep their family fed, keep clothes on their backs and have access to services of all kinds. This was my inspiration for running and serving on City Council, and my guiding principle during my service as a Lakewood Hospital Trustee.
The best thing about Lakewood is that we find a better way, again and again.
Citizens of Lakewood have received Community Bulletins in their water bill that contain information about the new Master Agreement between the City and the Cleveland Clinic. Is that information accurate?
Let’s examine the statements made in Issue No. 5.
The following is the relevant content of Issue No. 5 followed by my comments.
CITY OF LAKEWOOD…will receive
- $19.7 million in cash, including $7 million in rehab demo fund, $8.2 million for sale of Columbia Rd facility, $2.88 million in lease payments through June 2018 and $1.7 million in land sale to Cleveland Clinic.
The Clinic has agreed to pay $7 million in rehab/demo funds, however, the Clinic will only pay if the CITY EXPENDS 100% OF ALL OF THE HOSPITALS $84 MILLION IN CASH AND INVESTMENTS. (SOURCE?) Since the City anticipates having money left over to fund a new Foundation then the City must also anticipate that the Clinic WILL NOT pay the $7 million.
The City will receive $8.2 million for the Columbia Road property over a number of years. However, the property was appraised at nearly $15 million and the City had an offer from another interested party for a lot more than $8.2 million. The Columbia Road facility was also home to a business that once generated substantial profits for the Hospital. Why did the City give the Clinic such a sweet deal?
Friends ask me why I am still involved in Save Lakewood Hospital. As a mother of two teenage boys, I am involved because I know the importance of healthcare. Not only am I concerned about the well-being of my children, I am also concerned about the well-being of my community. Lakewood Hospital touched countless lives. There was great care and love to millions for over a century. How many babies do you know who were born in our hospital? How many lives were touched by the Grace Unit? Our hospital was an icon of hope for all that is good in medicine and all that is good for a community. A sign still hanging in one of the middle schools states “Lakewood Hospital, Over A Century of Touching Lives and Partnership in Education.” The impact of this loss is catastrophic, to both our economy and our social welfare. It didn’t have to happen. The closing of the hospital was built upon fabrication, greed and guile.
“The ER at Lakewood continues to be a community asset and will remain that way if it is supported by the community.”
This is a direct quote made by Fire Chief Scott Gilman on the Lakewood Observer’s Observation Deck on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.
“…..if it is supported by the community.”
So, it is up to us, the residents, to support the ER?
Now, how do we do that?
Gilman makes the ER sound like a local storefront that we should patronize.
Are we to drop-in at that facility on Belle Ave. for every bump and bruise we get, so as to show our support?
Notice that Gilman makes no mention of Cleveland Clinic/EMS supporting the ER.
“Build Lakewood” Insiders’ PAC Hurt Healthcare and Costs Taxpayers Over $184 Million-Vote Against 64
In the last Lakewood Observer, Jim Kenny, a spokesman for “Build Lakewood” recently rebranded as an insiders’ fake “progress” Political Action Committee (PAC) published some seriously false claims. The Rebranded PAC is the same group of insiders who last year took $50,000 in charitable money from the hospital and spread the same kind lies to “win” by cheating. Here is a point by point rebuttal of the claims made by the PAC:
Bad Government 10: Summers Admits “Life Is On The Line” And “Community Is Better Served” By A Hospital
At his press conference last week in front of firetrucks standing shoulder to shoulder with Fire Chief Scott Gilman, Summers said:
When City Council began a year of meetings in 2015 about a proposal to transform Lakewood Hospital to an outpatient medical center, I was concerned. I preferred to keep Lakewood Hospital as an inpatient facility and to retain the jobs and economic activity it provided. I work for an independent physician and I am a strong supporter of independent physician practice. However, the climate of healthcare is changing at a furious pace. I felt that my relationship to healthcare offered a great sensitivity to this important decision presented to Council.
My 87-year-old mother fell last week. They couldn't reach me right away, so she drove herself to the "ER" in what used to be Lakewood Hospital. I arrived about an hour later. In the ensuing three hours, they managed to get her hideously abraded left leg bandaged. As she stood up to leave she realized that her right foot was painful. An x-ray was taken and read by a presumably off-site radiologist, and a fracture was diagnosed. They put her in a half-cast and sent us off to an Orthopedic practice. The first thing that the Orthopedic specialist did when he entered the room was to press on my mother's foot in the area of the supposed fracture and realized immediately that the fracture shown on the x-ray was an old one and that her foot was not fractured, but merely sprained. No one at the Lakewood Urgent Care had bothered to verify that her area of pain matched the area of the fracture on the x-ray.
Lakewood’s main library is the place to get informed about the upcoming vote on Lakewood Hospital.
This November, local voters will make a choice for or against a city ordinance closing Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital. With early voting coming up even sooner, voters are invited to learn the details of this choice at a public Q&A, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13.
Everyone attending the free event can take home a voter guide with information from the Board of Elections. Along with the issue number for this vote, which the board will announce in early September, the guide will include ballot language and important voting deadlines. Panelists at the event will talk about these basics as well, along with the facts and background of this big decision.
Following the brief presentation, panelists will take audience questions on any and all aspects of the pending vote. The evening’s panel will feature experienced representatives from law and government, including leaders of Save Lakewood Hospital, a local organization that opposes the hospital closing.
Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young says that “This evening is local democracy at its simplest and best. Community leaders will sit down with neighbors, and discuss the issues and process of an important vote, face to face.”
The Sept. 13 event will take place at Lakewood’s main library, 15425 Detroit Avenue, in the first-floor multipurpose room. (The entrance to the multipurpose room is reached through the children’s department.) Advance registration is required as seating is limited, but all are encouraged to sign-up while spaces last by calling (216) 586-2401. There is no cost to register.
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.
Cleveland Clinic has appointed James Hekman, M.D., as the medical director for the new Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center.
Take a chance at winning a diamond and give another hope by providing the medical care they need. This year, North Coast Health’s summer raffle features a brilliant cut 0.5 carat center diamond that rocks within a halo pendant surrounded by 16 round full cut diamonds weighing 0.15 each. Total diamond weight of 0.74 carats strung on an 18 inch 14 karat white gold box chain. This exclusive diamond necklace is valued at $3,500; courtesy of Broestl & Wallis Fine Jewelers in Lakewood.
Lakewood residents were invited to a free forum discussing Healthcare and Lakewood Hospital's Future on Tuesday, July 27 at the Winton Place. A panel of five residents consisting of Dr. Terence Kilroy, Dr. Ashoka Nautiyal, Marguerite Harkness, CPA, Attorney Brian Essi, and Tom Monahan, vice chairman of Save Lakewood Hospital spoke on the subject of healthcare in Lakewood.
Tom Monahan covered the over 100 years of the history of Lakewood Hospital including the challenging years during the Depression, the 1996 Lease Agreement with the Cleveland Clinic and ending with the vote of the City Council to accept the Master Agreement that gave the hospital to the Cleveland Clinic. Mr. Monahan concluded with the comment, "Council folks keep saying that 'we had no choice.' That truly is a stunning admission from these folks that they really don't understand what or how to do their job. The Cleveland Clinic could not have gotten away with this deed without their consent."
What if you needed medical care and couldn’t afford it? What if you had to choose between buying your medications and feeding your family? For 30 years, North Coast Health- a faith based charitable clinic- has been the answer to these “what ifs”; providing these services, and many more, to thousands of people in need. What if you could help? Join us at North Coast Health’s annual fundraising gala, Celebration of Caring, on Thursday, September 15, 2016 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Global Center for Health Innovation, Cleveland, Ohio.
North Coast Health, a charitable medical clinic on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood is engaging the community in a new way this summer with the addition of a Little Free Library located in front of the building. The Little Free Library began as a grassroots movement in 2009 and is now a global sensation that has rapidly expanded into all fifty states and seventy countries.
State Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today applauds the allocation of $3 million in state funds for First Year Cleveland, a city-county initiative to combat Cuyahoga County’s alarmingly high infant mortality rates. The state investment is part of a total $26.8 million allocated in the latest state budget to support community-driven proposals to combat infant mortality at the local level and enhance efficacy among various agencies that provide care for at-risk women and infants.
In the following statement Marguerite Harkness, CPA and Committee Chairperson, reaffirmed that Lakewood Hospital could easily be a profitable business if operated properly.
“The Clinic had increased administrative fees by 718% from 2002 to 2014 without providing any explanation. Last year, Lakewood Hospital handed over more than 24 million dollars in fees that the Clinic refused to account for. Any health care provider would have loved the deal the Clinic had, charging whatever it pleased without accountability.
“Free of these excessive fees, we confidently estimate hospital earnings of 18 to 20 million dollars annually before depreciation. That could add up to a 14% return on net patient revenue. The conclusion is clear. The hospital could easily operate at a profit. Otherwise why would three health care operators be so interested in running Lakewood Hospital? There was no open bidding. Serious suitors were coldly rejected. It only makes business sense to have considered these proposals. Instead, the city turned the hospital over to the Clinic for pennies on the dollar. You don’t have to be Warren Buffett to figure out that this is a horrible deal.” – Marguerite Harkness, Chairperson, Save Lakewood Hospital Committee
A referendum vote to repeal the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital will appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot.
Following recent questions about the limits of Lakewood’s freestanding emergency department in the Observer and at a recent City Council meeting, the Cleveland Clinic has scrambled to attempt community reassurance.
Advocates for Lakewood Hospital have drawn attention to a statement at the Clinic’s own web site, posted barely a year ago, advising that “Some situations are clearly an emergency: A heart attack, fall off a ladder, serious kitchen burn or bone break. You know to call 9-1-1 and to get your loved one to the nearest hospital,” i.e. a full hospital and not a freestanding emergency department.
Apparently both Lakewood City Council members and the Clinic are reluctant to directly confront the limitations of care without a hospital. In a full-page ad in the April 13 Observer, the Clinic touted “full-service emergency care” in Lakewood, “always close to home.”
Unfortunately, this and the rest of the Clinic’s advertising about services in Lakewood is mostly an exercise in misdirection. Given that there is no fixed definition of “emergency department,” the claim of “full-service” emergency care is largely meaningless.
North Coast Health Receives Grant From CVS Health Foundation In Partnership With The National Association Of Free & Charitable Clinics
The grant will provide more access to health care and improve patient outcomes in the Greater Western Cleveland community. North Coast Health is one of only 34 clinics nationwide to receive CVS Health Foundation funding this year!
Two cheers for Lakewood Emergency Medical Services. That’s the message from City Council these days. Council advises that everyone trust in EMS personnel—except when they depart from the party line.
Once upon a time, what to do in a health emergency was simple. In many places it still is. As the website of the Cleveland Clinic advises, “Some situations are clearly an emergency: A heart attack, fall off a ladder, serious kitchen burn or bone break. You know to call 9-1-1 and to get your loved one to the nearest hospital.” But Lakewood’s hospital is closed, at present. Just what remains of its emergency services, and whether that’s enough, may be as divisive as any issue in the ongoing debate surrounding Lakewood Hospital.
Regardless of where you stand on the hospital issue, it is hard not to argue that the whole hospital debacle represents bad government.
It has been established that Lakewood Hospital was an asset owned by the city that had an estimated fair market value of $120M (FMV). It is a given that you cannot obtain FMV if you don’t test the market. Our city government failed to test the market.
On December 10, 2015, the terms of the Master Agreement were announced. Per that agreement, the city would receive money and property estimated to be only $20M. $5.7M of that amount is the estimated value of the empty gutted hospital building and land the city gets in the deal which is subject to a restrictive non compete covenant and parking lot rights in favor of CCF. So the $5.7M estimate is likely too high and the city will likely get much less than the estimated $20M.
The Master agreement gave the Cleveland Clinic (CCF) $70M of the Hospital’s value as a “dissolution distribution” (cash, accounts receivable, bed licenses, equipment, fixtures, a non-compete covenant, discounted prices of buildings and land, and the balance of the $50M investment portfolio, etc.) in exchange for the “risk” that CCF might have to pay some “wind down” expenses.
On December 13, 2015, Summers told the Plain Dealer that "$12 million of the hospital's $78 million in wind down costs would be borne by the Clinic.” That same day, I made several records requests seeking records of any estimated wind down costs.
The Master Agreement was passed on December 21, 2015, but there was no public discussion at all concerning the estimated wind down costs.
Wednesday, February 24th was a very busy day for the Save Lakewood Hospital committee and Citizens for a Strong Lakewood members, who protested at two high profile speaking events.
The hospital saga has followed the well known playbook of large hospital systems that divide and conquer local communities to limit consumer choice and limit competition. They do this by sizing up local leaders, promising the leaders things that the leaders want and then dividing the community to achieve the hospital system’s goals of limited consumer choice. In Lakewood’s case, the Cleveland Clinic (CCF) worked that playbook to perfection and City Hall chose to side with CCF and divide itself from the people.
Voters will have their say on whether or not Lakewood Hospital should be closed.
But city officials will keep citizens, and the Board of Elections, waiting for now.
These were the only firm conclusions reached at a special meeting of City Council on Thursday, February 11, which stretched more than three hours. Council President Sam O’Leary, Ward 2, called the meeting eight days after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reported adequate valid signatures on a petition to repeal authorization to close Lakewood Hospital. Faced with an eventual obligation to perform the repeal themselves, or else allow the referendum, council adjourned without doing either.
O’Leary introduced the meeting as petitioners’ opportunity to argue for the repeal of ordinance 49-15, by which the city entered an agreement to close its hospital and transfer assets to the Cleveland Clinic. Petitioners, however, noted that Citizens for a Strong Lakewood turned in petitions to City Hall fully three weeks earlier, but O’Leary only called upon them to present arguments six hours before Thursday’s meeting. More than one speaker expressed skepticism that council was open to being swayed by arguments or information. Throughout the evening, speakers urged that council dispense with delays and permit the referendum which citizens have earned under law.
“Either repeal the ordinance to close the hospital or determine exactly when in 2016 the citizens of Lakewood will have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote on the future of their community hospital,” said Kevin Young, a spokesman for Save Lakewood Hospital. Brian Essi, who made introductory remarks on petitioners’ behalf, added, “This is democracy 101, and I don’t know why our elected leaders are fighting that.”
Far West Center has received a Ryan White grant to provide outpatient mental health services for eligible persons with HIV/AIDS living in Lorain or Cuyahoga Counties. The psychological and emotional impact of HIV/AIDS can be overwhelming. Often, the diagnosis itself triggers a host of mental health problems that worsen symptoms of the illness itself.
After a series of unaccounted for delays, Lakewood City Council decided to postpone a March vote to Save Lakewood Hospital.
The decision was made at a special council session that was called to discuss placing the issue on the March ballot.
The issue will either be placed in a special election in August at a cost to taxpayers of between 100,000 and 150,000 dollars or placed on the November ballot.
The popular conjecture is that council is playing the obstructionist card and purposely delayed the vote hoping that citizens would forget about it and move on. But the more citizens come to grips with the fact the hospital is closed, the more frustrated they become with their elected officials.
It was with council’s 7 votes that the hospital was closed. Pit those 7 votes against the 2,686 certified signatures for the referendum to repeal the ordinance and it is easy to understand that a large and potent movement has begun.
As the lawsuit continues, The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will be setting up forums to educate the public. These forums will carry on until the time that the issue is voted on, be it August or November.
In the meantime, the future of the hospital remains in limbo and our city remains divided as council missed a golden opportunity to end our city’s strife sooner than later by placing the issue on the March ballot.
Save Lives, Save Jobs, Save Lakewood. Save Lakewood Hospital.
Kevin Young is part of the Save Lakewood Hospital Committee.
Throughout 2015 Lakewood officials encouraged us to have faith in their handling of Lakewood Hospital. They did so in general terms, often, insisting e.g. on their “due diligence” before finally endorsing a proposal to board up the city’s hospital. But they also made some very specific promises about their obligations as public servants.
In a May 22 letter to MetroHealth, Councilman Ryan Nowlin wrote that “We are… evaluating the nonbinding proposal advanced by the Lakewood Hospital Association and the Cleveland Clinic, and we must do so with respect to any other proposals as well.”(1) Council, wrote Nowlin, was “perfectly free to consider any proposals regarding the future of healthcare in Lakewood, and indeed we are obligated to do so as community stewards if such a proposal is presented.” [Emphases added]
Around the same time, Mayor Summers wrote that “I am duty-bound as mayor to explore every option available” to keep our community-owned hospital operating.(2)
Based on these statements (and a hospital still open after months of warnings), Lakewood went into an election assured that if any possibility existed to keep the city’s hospital, then incumbent leaders would embrace it.
They didn’t. The overtures of Surgical Development Partners—including an initial offer for part of the hospital’s holdings nearly $1 million higher than the final offer from Cleveland Clinic—were brushed aside with no pretense of the duties or obligations alleged earlier in the year. After being re-elected on a platform of openminded dedication, officials quickly rubber-stamped a product of closed, noncompetitive negotiations. It was classic bait-and-switch.
City council’s 7-0 vote was not responsible, consensus decision-making but a reckless bluff. Council members approved a controversial agreement for which they did not have, or even bother to seek, public buy-in. Yet the provision for a citizen-initiated referendum was on the books and remains on the books. Council’s choice to pretend that they had authority to act without popular approval does not oblige us to agree with them; I could sign my brother’s name on a contract, but he would not be stuck with it unless he chose to be. We aren’t stuck with council’s agreement unless we choose to be.
Insisting on a better course through a referendum will be an appropriate response, and an effective one. The complete disappearance of SB5 since its defeat in 2011 demonstrates that even when they don’t like them, politicians respect referendum results.
Council and Mayor Summers have made unambiguous pledges to explore alternatives, and they should keep them. For one reason or another, however, they obviously feel subject to conflicting priorities on Lakewood Hospital. As voters we have the right and the responsibility to tell them which priority to place first: Don’t feel obliged to accept limits that Cleveland Clinic wants to place on our options. Do pursue all options, openly and honestly.
1) Nowlin, Ryan. Letter to Kathy Bellflower, Executive Assistant to the President of The MetroHealth System. 22 May 2015. tinyurl.com/jhpd3k4
2) Summers, Michael P. Letter to Akram Boutros, President and Chief Executive Officer of The MetroHealth System. 18 May 2015. tinyurl.com/jec3ft9
On December 21, 2015, City Council voted 7-0 to approve the so-called Master Agreement (MA) to close and dissolve Lakewood Hospital. Lakewood Hospital had been recently valued at more than $120 million. [Subsidium Slide # 71 8/20/14] Under agreements existing immediately prior to approval of the new Master Agreement, if Lakewood Hospital closed and dissolved, the City of Lakewood would have received the entire value of Lakewood Hospital, i.e. property and money worth nearly $120M. [1996 Lease 12.2, 14.1 and LHA Articles of Incorporation] Instead, under the Master Agreement, the Cleveland Clinic (CCF) will receive money and property valued at $80M, the City will receive less than $23M and a new health and wellness foundation jointly controlled by CCF and the City will receive about $16.5M. The City did not conduct any public bidding or advertising of its Lakewood Hospital rights and properties.
I have lived in Lakewood for about a year now, and I have given myself a lot of time to consider both sides of the Lakewood Hospital debate. As a citizen, it is very clear what the whole debate is about. Trust what the Cleveland Clinic is doing, or save what in this transitioning healthcare stage we live in, in this country, that is a rarity among rarities-- a hospital. A hospital that has been put in a reasonable travel-distance for emergencies. A hospital that has been a community staple for years. A defining feature of Lakewood. One of the many reasons why I moved to Lakewood, outside of the diversity, the closeness in distance, the local businesses ranging from the bars and restaurants to the local shops and boutiques, and the affordability.
After serving North Coast Health since its inception - first as volunteer, then Head Nurse and eventually Executive Director for the past twenty years, Lee Elmore has retired from her post. Under Lee’s guidance, North Coast Health has transformed the access and provision of care to thousands of individuals and families in western greater Cleveland, and has been recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home, level 3 by National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA).
Here in Lakewood we have been presented with a false narrative. It is a narrative that is being told country-wide by what is called the Medical Industrial Complex. It is a narrative that is not motivated by what care is best for our population, but by greed. It is the same greed that has overnight increased the prices for life-saving drugs by 2000% and more.
Here is where we are on the hospital situation:
- The Cleveland Clinic (CCF) is in breach of the Definitive Agreement (DA) and has committed tortious acts that have caused damage to Lakewood’s assets
- Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) is in breach of its Lease with City.
- LHA trustees, including the 3 City’s ex-officio trustees (Summers, Madigan and Bullock) have breached their fiduciary duties by failing to adhere to the charitable mission of LHA and failing to competently oversee CCF.
- CCF and LHA want out of their obligations under the Lease and DA.
- Under the circumstances, the City as the Landlord has both the right and the duty to seek alternative tenants to operate a hospital and/or buyers for its buildings and equipment.
- Mayor Summers and City Council have failed to:
a. Demand that LHA and CCF comply with the relevant agreements and restore services and patient volumes taken away by CCF. b. Seek alternative tenants in a professional manner and failed to conduct any professional or public bidding of its assets, i.e. they have made no effort whatsoever to maximize the value of the assets or advertise the hospital for lease or sale.
- No rationale Landlord would let the “volunteer” trustees of the defaulting tenant and the defaulting CCF control the search for a new tenant and/or the liquidation and sale of the City’s assets. To make matters worse, the defaulting volunteer trustees are led by Tom Gable who is also a CCF trustee—this just makes no sense.