Fundraiser at Angelo’s Pizza, August 2

Help out Save Lakewood Hospital by dining with Angelo’s Pizza this August.

Tuesday, August 2, Angelo’s will donate 20% of any food or soft drink purchase! Just mention Save Lakewood Hospital with your order, and help fund efforts to overturn the shutdown of our hospital. Carry-out, delivery and gift card purchases are also eligible to help the fundraiser.

Angelo’s is located at 13715 Madison Ave., and open from 11 a.m. to midnight on August 2.

Flier for Angelo's event
Present this flier, or mention the fundraiser, when making your order

Open Forum with Local Doctors, July 26

Local doctors will answer questions about the future of Lakewood healthcare next Tuesday evening, at a free public forum on July 26 hosted by Save Lakewood Hospital.

Young and old are invited to share in a discussion of the choices offered by an autumn referendum on the controversial deal to close Lakewood Hospital, along with related issues.

“This forum is a chance to hear from independent doctors about our options, at this point, for securing our community’s long-term access to healthcare,” said Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young.

“Our panelists aren’t on a private payroll,” Young said, “and they’re free to answer audience questions about these challenges honestly. This will be a spin-free, straight talk discussion tethered to the real needs of our citizens rather than to big-money interest groups.”

Portrait of Terry Kilroy
Dr. Terry Kilroy

The planned panel includes Dr. Terry Kilroy, a Lakewood pulmonologist with nearly four decades’ experience in critical medicine, and Dr. Ashoka Nautiyal, another local independent practitioner. The doctors will be joined by professionals in law and finance, and co-chairs of the Save Lakewood Hospital committee local CPA Marguerite Harkness and Tom Monahan.

The forum is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., July 26 in the lower-level meeting room (Mr. Winton’s Den) at Winton Place, 12700 Lake Avenue. 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.

Billing taxpayers to prop up a bad deal

The ongoing project to turn Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital into a private health center has a big price tag. Selling people a deal they don’t want is expensive: consultants, advertising, direct mail, etc. Add fees on top of more fees, and the asset write-downs of a no-bid deal.

Then quietly charge it all to taxpayers.

This has been the consistent story behind closing Lakewood Hospital, so far. It’s also the simplest, bottom-line argument for voting against the deal in November and introducing some fiscal discipline to a pricey boondoggle. The direct costs, alone, already run into the hundreds of millions.

For a real sense of the scale of this deal’s expense, it may help to start small and work up from there.

$300: the approximate hourly rate paid by Lakewood to Thompson Hine beginning in April 2015, “in connection with negotiations with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Lakewood Hospital Association, Inc., relating to Lakewood Hospital.” Between then and the negotiated deal announced six months later, a three-digit total of billable hours seems plausible, at least.

$50,000: paid by Lakewood Hospital Association—which officially existed to run a public hospital on the community’s behalf—to a political campaign against public input on the fate of that hospital.

$75,000: the minimum which Lakewood paid to Huron Consulting, for a conclusion-averse study, whose authors apparently provided freelance political campaign work on the public tab as well.

$500,000: paid by Lakewood Hospital Association to Subsidium, for a study so plainly biased and inadequate that city council commissioned the Huron study to review it.

$78,000,000: projected costs of “winding down” operations of Lakewood Hospital. Under the deal, the city of Lakewood is on the hook for most of these poorly explained costs.

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November’s referendum: basics

This November 8, Lakewood will hold a referendum on the deal to close Lakewood Hospital.

The referendum is a simple, straightforward vote on the legislation by which city council closed our hospital: for the deal or against it.

The Board of Elections will assign the referendum an issue number in early September. But the referendum is officially scheduled to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, and the wording is specified by the city charter of Lakewood:

The ballot used when voting upon any ordinance subject to referendum shall state the title of the ordinance to be voted on and below it the two propositions “For the Ordinance” and “Against the Ordinance”.

The deal between City Hall and the Cleveland Clinic to close Lakewood Hospital was passed as Ordinance 49-15. As the ballot is readied over the coming months, Save Lakewood Hospital will ensure that the requirements of the charter are observed and respected. In the meantime the most important thing to keep in mind is:

This November you can vote against the deal to close Lakewood Hospital, by doing just that. Vote “Against the Ordinance” in the referendum on the deal.

Defeating the deal will send a clear message that Lakewood is not going to settle for second-class status, and that it’s time to reopen our great city to the much better options awaiting us. For more about this choice, visit stronglakewood.com.

Thank you, Lakewood parade-goers!

Today’s Independence Day parade was an outstanding reminder of how much our community can achieve, together.

Save Lakewood Hospital members in July 4, 2016 parade
A sea of support for Save Lakewood Hospital

A cross-section of Lakewood showed up to support Lakewood Hospital and a genuine, positive vision for our city. Young and old marched together behind a common banner:

Marches with "We Deserve a Better Deal" banner
YOU deserve a better deal, Lakewood!

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Be part of Lakewood’s July 4 Parade!

Save Lakewood Hospital invites you to join us in Lakewood’s Independence Day parade, Monday, July 4. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Please walk with us and show your support for a better deal.

We will gather for the parade at 9:30 a.m., at the corner of Lake Ave and Kenneth Drive. (Our official spot in the parade is #13 in the green section. We are behind A To Z Wedding Planners and in front of Ganley Chevrolet Brookpark.)

Please wear red!

If you drive, you can park at the end of the parade route in Lakewood Park, where there will be a shuttle available to transport drivers, only. If you have other parade participants in your car, you must drop them off at Kenneth & Lake, and then go park your car.

Lakewood can do better than a downsizing plan, and with your help, we will!

Lakewood needs a better deal, not a PR blitz

Lakewood citizens continue to fight back against the big bluff, i.e. that losing a hospital is just fine and nothing to worry about.

On June 20, activists successfully challenged a staged PR event at City Hall, drawing attention to the fact that doctors not employed by the Cleveland Clinic warn of serious risks when hospital facilities are removed from an ER.

Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakewood keeps fighting
Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakewood keeps fighting

As part of an ongoing PR campaign, Dr. Judith Welsh of the Cleveland Clinic appeared before City Council to claim that Lakewood’s “freestanding” emergency department maintains the same level of service as it did before the Clinic extracted the assets of community-owned Lakewood Hospital.

Confirming that this was simply another misleading commercial, rather than an honest discussion, “Welsh did not remain after her presentation to answer questions from the audience” as cleveland.com reports. That audience included an experienced, independent cardiologist:

Dr. Terence Kilroy, a Lakewood pulmonologist who is not a Clinic employee, raised questions about how paramedics determine whether a patient should be taken to the Lakewood emergency department or an emergency department with an attached hospital. He also said the Cleveland Clinic in the past has not communicated with him about his patients when they were brought in through the Lakewood emergency department.

Thanks to the efforts of Save Lakewood Hospital and other concerned citizens, the people of Lakewood will approach this November’s referendum able to make their own choice, independently.

(For more photos from June 20, see this gallery at the Lakewood Observer.)

Health Care Crisis Continues; Rally Scheduled

For Immediate Release —

Growing dissatisfaction with Lakewood’s freestanding emergency room (or “ER”) is boiling over, and has led to what will be a full blown protest rally on Monday, June 20, at 6 PM outside Lakewood City Hall. This demonstration comes as The Cleveland Clinic attempts to quash growing alarm over the facility’s obvious shortcomings. Chief among the shortcomings is the lack of a life-saving cardiac catheterization lab, and other services that are critical in the event of a heart attack, stroke, severe head injury or other life-threatening illness. These life-saving services are offered at ERs attached to full service hospitals, not at freestanding ERs.

The rally is scheduled ahead of tonight’s Lakewood City Council meeting where Dr. Judith Welsh of the Cleveland Clinic will give a presentation extolling what services the ER does offer, most of which are offered at urgent care centers at far lower prices.

But what will Dr. Welsh say to ease the very real concerns about the ER’s critical care shortcoming when it comes heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening events? It will not be an easy sales pitch, given the fact that prudent health care workers agree that ERs like the one in Lakewood cannot provide definitive care in these instances.

Notably, Dr. Terry Kilroy of The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee asserts that in an event like a heart attack or stroke, a stop at Lakewood’s ER delays definitive treatment, often critically reducing the chance of full recovery and increasing the chance of death.

Dr. Kilroy knows what he is talking about. He has almost four decades’ experience as a pulmonary critical care specialist in Lakewood and has a five star rating on WebMD.com. Dr. Kilroy will be available for comments and interviews at tonight’s meeting. Other doctors are scheduled to speak about the ER’s shortcomings as well.

The bottom line is simple. In the event of a heart attack, stroke or other severe injury, Lakewood’s ER can not deliver definitive treatment and worse, a stop there delays it, potentially leaving Lakewood lives in peril. This city of almost 52,000 is in the midst of a full blown health care crisis, created by the closure of its community owned full service hospital.  Responsibility for this crisis rests squarely on the shoulders of elected city officials who blindly voted to close the once profitable, life saving facility.

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June fundraisers at Bob Evans

Help out Save Lakewood Hospital by dining at Bob Evans this June. Every Wednesday in June, the Lakewood Bob Evans will donate 15% of your purchase to Save Lakewood Hospital when you present this flier.

The participating dates are: June 1, June 8, June 15, June 22 and June 29. Bob Evans is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and located at 14115 Detroit Ave in Lakewood.

Download this flier and bring a printout with you, make a purchase any Wednesday in June, and 15% goes to Save Lakewood Hospital. That’s it—thank you!

New Filing at FTC Raises More Questions about Clinic Conduct

For Immediate Release —

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee today released a letter which former Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich personally delivered to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday, May 13, 2016 which asks the FTC to determine if the Cleveland Clinic failed to make a required filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (H-S-R), in its machinations involving its planned termination of in-patient care at Lakewood Hospital.

Kucinich, who served Lakewood and the greater Cleveland area in the US House for 16 years submitted the filing as part of a continuing battle at the FTC which began with an extensive brief filed last October.

In the latest complaint, (see attachments) Kucinich raises three points:

  1. There is no evidence that a mandatory filing was made regarding the Clinic’s Lakewood transaction.  Across America, larger hospital systems have been taking over smaller health care systems, flying under the regulatory radar of the FTC through various maneuvers of questionable legality. Kucinich pointed out that the asset value of Lakewood Hospital is at least $120 million; a consultant valued the hospital at $70 million, and an associated investment pool at $50 million.  “Even viewing the transaction as the wind-down of a collaboration, such as a joint-venture, it still should have been reviewed under the H-S-R Act, because of the value of the assets involved in the deal,” Kucinich wrote.
  2. Kucinich raises the question as to whether the Clinic sought to avoid a filing under Hart-Scott-Rodino, in order to avoid FTC scrutiny of the Clinic’s market concentration in the greater Cleveland area, through a review known at the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index. “If H-S-R filings, though required, are simply not made, regulators lack sufficient information to prompt a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (‘HHI’) review to determine market concentration.”
  3. Kucinich raised questions of improper bidding procedures.  “There is reason to believe, based upon documentary evidence, that the transaction which led to the closing of Lakewood Hospital was steered to Cleveland Clinic by virtue of that party’s active participation in the development of the offering process; and that during the offering process Clinic employees, or trustees had access to review offers of its competitors.”  Kucinich submitted documentary evidence of the efforts of a second bidder.

Marguerite Harkness, Chair of the Save Lakewood Hospital Committee, said, “Congressman Kucinich has raised serious questions which deserve the attention of the Federal Trade Commission.  He is speaking for many people in the community who feel that the entire Lakewood Hospital deal stinks.”

Tom Monahan, Vice-Chair of Save Lakewood Hospital Committee said, “It is inspiring that Kucinich repeatedly comes to our defense when our own local public officials keep selling us out.  He’s still involved and that’s very good for our community.”

Save Lives, Save Jobs, Save Lakewood, Save Lakewood Hospital

Related documents: Letter to FTC, supporting documents, news release.

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Facts fail to stay buried despite city hall spin

Lakewood City Hall and the Cleveland Clinic have been attempting to do an end-run around “interference” with their agenda for more than a year. As far back as January 2015, officials informed media that “Cleveland Clinic and the Lakewood Hospital Association will close Lakewood Hospital” as though nothing more would be said. Their fantasy quickly ran into the reality that a community-owned hospital is not a commodity to be traded around at private whim.

After 16 months of shell-games and evasions, officials’ actions face review by an ongoing lawsuit and a November referendum. Yet they continue to proceed as though they can bluff their way past all resistance. In the most recent Lakewood Observer, multiple residents take note of this ongoing bluff and demonstrate that it’s failing. “Burying the Hospital Alive” points out that city council—after choosing to schedule a referendum on closing the hospital in November—is proceeding as though the measure is already approved. In “Bad Government” part five, citizen investigator Brian Essi continues to detail how city officials have attempted to bury records of their actions while holding publicly-paid office.

Yet, as “Field Of Dreams Part Deux” confirms, too many people have taken up shovels for city hall’s information-landfill to succeed. Word is getting out about things like MetroHealth’s proposal to operate Lakewood Hospital, which demolishes false claims that the Cleveland Clinic’s decanting plan was the only option on offer. As the author writes:

Our civic leadership has no credible plan capable of replacing the economic engine that they have intentionally shut down. Over the balance of its now-canceled leased, Lakewood Hospital would have generated more than a billion dollars of economic impact. This is a conservative estimate that only assumes the continued operation of the hospital through the current lease period and not after 2026.

Did our civic leaders understand that they were shutting down a billion dollars’ worth of economic flow when they rejected the Metro Health System proposal?  It seems not.  If you were selling your house, you would have it appraised before putting it on the market. If our civic leaders had the operations or assets of Lakewood Hospital appraised by independent professionals, those appraisals have never been made public. If they didn’t have such a valuable asset appraised, then shame on them.

All of these basic, common-sense practices—an independent appraisal, a public RFP, and open bidding—can still be performed when Lakewood says no to the alternative of lazy, prefab policy-making. Voters will have their choice on November 8.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: The hospital is already closed. Isn’t it too late to save it?

A: The legislation that closed the hospital will be on November’s ballot, for voters to approve or reject. Lakewood can vote against it and instead pursue a genuine, open bidding process for new partners to operate our hospital.

Q: Why would any operator want to be in Lakewood? The hospital was losing money.

A: The hospital was profitable as late as 2014, three weeks before Mayor Summers declared it to be closing. Cleveland Clinic steered patients to other facilities in 2015, manufacturing financial losses.  Lakewood is a desirable healthcare market.

Q: Didn’t the city hire a consultant to look for partners to run the hospital?

A: Multiple potential partners have surfaced, despite never being invited by the City.  Officials improperly steered the bidding process, blocking viable operators from the process. Here is the Metro proposal that would have saved the hospital and which city officials buried until attorneys for the people unearthed it in legal proceedings.

Q: Why are people complaining? Fairview Hospital is only three miles away.

A: Fairview Hospital’s emergency room is already experiencing major overcrowding. They have also faced a shortage of inpatient beds in the few months since our hospital closed. These conditions will become even more serious in the face of a health crisis such as flu epidemic.

Q: How could Fairview’s emergency room be overcrowded? We still have an ER in Lakewood.

A: Our emergency room cannot handle serious (yet common) emergencies like bone fractures, heart attack, stroke, appendicitis, and more. The majority of these cases are being sent to Fairview, wasting critical time in transport and creating overcrowding at Fairview. Densely populated Lakewood is a viable market for a hospital.

Q: I never used Lakewood Hospital. How does this affect me?

A: The hospital was a major economic engine for our city. It provided over 1,100 good jobs and generated $280 million in annual economic impact. Its loss will affect our city budget, leading to potential tax increases and/or reduced services.

Q: If voters, in November, reject the ordinance that closed the hospital, what then?

A: Better alternatives are ready and waiting for Lakewood; the next step is to go forward with:

  • a “right-sized” full-service community hospital and emergency room in Lakewood
  • a qualified consultant to legitimately market our hospital to all potential partners
  • removal of restrictions on use of our hospital campus for medical services
  • rejecting the release of liability for past conduct by those who failed to meet contractual obligations to maintain Lakewood Hospital
  • obtaining fair compensation for the proposed medical office building site and other assets

Q: Didn’t we already vote on this last fall?

A: No. Last year’s election was to amend the city charter, not to approve sale of the hospital. Even if that Issue had passed, the public would still face a vote to approve the hospital sale.

Missing Millions: A Reminder that Lakewood Hospital was Profitable

Chairperson of Save Lakewood Hospital

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.

Lakewood’s Health Care Crisis—Debate Rages on

For Immediate Release —

Lakewood is facing a health care crisis as the shortcomings of the city’s freestanding ER have come to light. Tonight, Lakewood citizens will again ask that City Council send a direct mail notice to every resident, clearly stating that in the event of a heart attack, a stroke or other serious illness, they should go directly to a full service hospital rather than Lakewood’s freestanding ER. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

The ER’s shortcomings exist as a consequence of closing the attached, full service hospital that once served this community of 52,000, and is one of the factors that led to the passing of a Lakewood resident who arrived at the ER suffering from a heart attack.

In this video, Dr. Terry Kilroy, a pulmonary critical care specialist in Lakewood, clearly states that in the event of a heart attack or stroke “… any time left on the table leads to increased organ dysfunction and mortality… a freestanding emergency room assures wasted time.” The conclusion is simple. In the serious event of a heart attack or stroke, a stop at Lakewood’s freestanding ER could be a critical mistake. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJvwGTnfUaA

Dr. Kilroy’s position is supported by The Cleveland Clinic’s website* which states: “ Some situations are clearly an emergency: A heart attack, fall off a ladder, serious kitchen burn or bone break. Call 9-1-1 and get your loved one to the nearest hospital.”

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/03/should-you-visit-the-emergency-department-urgent-care-or-express-care/

Pressure is building on council members to warn residents of the shortcomings of the city’s freestanding ER. The major stumbling block appears to be that in announcing the closure of Lakewood Hospital, city and Clinic officials oversold the capability of the freestanding ER, leaving citizens with the impression that their lives were as safe and secure as when the full service hospital was open.

Add to this the revelations of bid rigging that eschewed an opportunity for MetroHealth to operate a full service hospital (http://savelakewoodhospital.org/wp-content/uploads/metrohealth-proposal.pdf), and embattled city officials are sure to face more impassioned addresses like this one from the last council meeting: https://youtu.be/DffnPYeOmxA?t=3m31s   Further reference for Lakewood’s ER shortcomings can be found on our website at http://savelakewoodhospital.org/emergency-care-with-some-exceptions/

Lakewood’s City Council meeting begins tonight at 7:30 at Lakewood City Hall.

* Note: In May 2016, the Cleveland Clinic quietly rewrote the statement, which it had posted only one year earlier, and substituted “emergency department” for “hospital.” Absent explanation, this appears to be just another attempt at spin. The original, uncensored version is preserved at the Internet Archive, and in the screen capture below.

Get your loved one to the nearest hospital.
Screen capture taken March 24, 2016.

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Emergency care, with some exceptions

Following recent questions about the limits of Lakewood’s freestanding emergency department in the Lakewood Observer and at a recent city council meeting, the Cleveland Clinic has rushed 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. an actual hospital and not a freestanding emergency department.

Apparently, both Lakewood City Council and the Clinic are reluctant to directly confront the limitations of care without a hospital. In a full-page ad on page 3 of the April 13 Observer, the Clinic touts “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 misrepresentation. Given that there is no fixed definition of “emergency department,” the claim of “full-service” emergency care is largely meaningless.

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Why a hospital still matters & other news

The latest issue of The Lakewood Observer includes a number of informative articles about Lakewood Hospital.

“Emergency Room? …It’s Complicated” presents an in-depth, objective examination of what’s left in Lakewood with our hospital currently closed, and whether the remaining emergency services can deliver on the reassurances of city officials.

In “Empty Chair Versus a New Shiny Building,” Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young draws on both his own personal experience and the professional judgment of Dr. Terry Kilroy, to argue that the absence of hospital services will cost real people the most priceless thing any of us possesses.

Mr. Brian Essi continues to report on slowly released public documents related to the campaign against Lakewood Hospital. E-mails from city officials corroborate the recently published testimony of Mayor Mike Summers that “charity funds were expended from the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) to influence the election last November.” Essi’s update follows another report published earlier this month.

Elsewhere in the news, meanwhile, this slide show at cleveland.com comes surprisingly close to recognizing that there is a pattern to the Cleveland Clinic’s activity—one not favorable to older, less affluent communities. (Including Cleveland.)

Fundraiser at Fresco Mexican Grill March 30

Help support Save Lakewood Hospital at Fresco Mexican Grill and Salsa Bar in Rocky River on Wednesday, March 30.

Fresco will donate 20% of all food and beverage purchases, whether you dine in or carry out, if you mention Save Lakewood Hospital. The offer applies to gift cards, also!

The fundraiser lasts all day on March 30, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fresco is located at 19310 Detroit Road in Rocky River (in Beachcliff Market Square, on the north side of Detroit); their number is 216-795-5050.

Fresco Mexican Grill and Salsa BarPlease share the word about this event among friends, neighbors and social media! (Download a flier here.)

City Councilman protests Cleveland Clinic tactics

Cleveland Clinic plans to remove hospital services have been blasted, as an intentional prelude to closing a hospital entirely, by a member of city council—in Cleveland.

As reported at cleveland.com, Ward 8 Councilman Michael Polensek condemned a Clinic plan to remove a rehabilitation unit from Euclid Hospital:

“They move the rehab unit out and you might as well kiss that place goodbye,” Polensek said Wednesday. “We can’t let them do to Euclid what they did to Lakewood and East Cleveland. What’s happening here is outrageous, and they wonder why the average citizen is so angry with the corporate elite.”

…Polensek said the move is taken from a Cleveland Clinic playbook to remove services from facilities that it wants to close or reduce in size. He wrote a letter to Pamela Holmes, a senior government relations executive with the Clinic, protesting the move.

“The Clinic moves out services and health care related programs and then indicates sometime later to the community that the institution is losing money and/or patients or is in poor condition,” Polensek wrote in the letter, adding: “Then it is only a matter of time before the hospital closes and they serve us up some reduced health care facility with some deceased former officials name on it, which is nowhere near the services once being offered by a full service hospital.”

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Close-by health care becomes more important

Lakewood’s emergency personnel have already testified to the extra challenges that will result if Lakewood Hospital is lost. For neighbors in Cleveland who have also depended on Lakewood Hospital, however, the value of having a genuine hospital close by is even greater.

A Fox 8 report has advised Clevelanders that:

Next time you see a Cleveland ambulance rushing to a call, notice the crew will likely not be breaking the speed limit, even if that’s 25 mph. The Fox 8 I-Team has obtained a city ambulance policy that says, “The driver shall never exceed the posted speed limit.” The I-Team investigated after hearing a Cleveland EMS crew got in trouble with bosses for answering a call and speeding. Internal documents show that crew went 47 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Arguments for starting over on Lakewood Hospital

Addressing Lakewood City Council Monday evening, attorney Gerald Phillips lent his support to repealing ordinance 49-15, which closed Lakewood Hospital, and “starting all over.” Mr. Phillips roundly criticized the ordinance, which will go before Lakewood voters in November.

Mr. Phillips’ statement is republished below, with permission:

The following are examples of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance of the City Council and the Mayor of Lakewood:

I. The complete failure to provide for the waiver of facility fees for Lakewood residents who are unable to pay for them;

II. The complete failure to provide for a guarantee amount of charity care for Lakewood residents; in the past as much as $7 million was provided through Lakewood Hospital; none is guaranteed by the Master Agreement;

III. The complete failure to enforce the breach of the lease agreement by the Lakewood Hospital Association and the breach of the Definitive Agreement by the Cleveland Clinic; no consideration at all was received in light of their material breaches as part of their fraudulent plan to close Lakewood Hospital;

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The State of the Community

For Immediate Release —

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.

At 6 AM, committee members protested in front of the Intercontinental Hotel next to the Clinic as invitees filed past on their way to Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove’s “State of The Clinic” address. Temperatures were in the low 40’s as a soaking rain fell, but that didn’t dampen committee member spirits. Commuters honked their horns and gave members thumbs-up as rush hour traffic swelled on Carnegie Avenue. Local TV covered the protest and reported on morning broadcasts. Crain’s Cleveland Business’s health reporter, who was one of the invitees, tweeted a photo of the protest and a link from our YouTube Channel (https://youtu.be/Yzf4EDK25Xs).

Twelve hours later, the committee re-enacted the scene at Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers’s State of the City address at the Lakewood Masonic Temple. Just as was the case earlier that day, the falling rain soaked committee members as they picketed on Detroit Avenue in front of the Temple. This time the honking horns and cheers of approval were even more intense than they had been before. The sound of horns and cheers filled the main hall of the Temple as council members shuffled in for the address.

Once the address commenced, committee members joined the small group of Mayor Summers’s supporters in the Temple’s main hall. Empty as the hall was, it provided a chance to dry off after what had been a very successful day. The committee’s visibility has made it clear to everyone that the campaign for health care justice in our community is far from over. The committee continues its commitment to save lives, save jobs, save Lakewood and to save Lakewood Hospital. The issue that will determine the future of our hospital will be on the ballot some time in 2016.Read More

Twas The SLH Protest

By Marguerite Harkness
2/24/2016

‘Twas the rainiest morning,
And out on the Street,
Stood legions of SLH folks,
Who wouldn’t be beat.

“Save Lakewood Hospital”,
They shouted out loud –
Save Lives, Save Jobs, and
Keep Lakewood proud!

The rain was relentless,
The puddles were deep,
The drivers were happy
To tell us “Beep-Beep”!

The Clinic cops were decent,
This we must say,
As we cleared the crosswalks,
And promised to obey.

Back home before breakfast,
Our coats soaking wet,
Our gloves and our pants
And our shoes were a mess!

Toby is bragging,
We heard with alarm,
He says Clinic’s flush,
Means Lakewood no harm.

But Clinic monopoly
In Lakewood’s own town
Means Lakewood’s economy
Is heading WAY DOWN!

A thousand of jobs,
And a ton of dough,
No inpatient beds,
And NOWHERE TO GO!

Committee to Protest at Cosgrove Speech, Mayor Summers Speech

For Immediate Release —

Wednesday, February 24th will be a busy day for the Save Lakewood Hospital Committee as members will be protesting at two high-profile speaking events.

At 6 AM committee members will carry on a protest in front of the Intercontinental Hotel at 9801 Carnegie Avenue where the “State of The Clinic” address will be given by Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove.

Twelve hours later at 6 PM, committee members will assemble for the “State of the City” address, delivered by Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers. The evening address will be delivered at the Lakewood Masonic Temple, 15300 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood.

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee wish it could be said that The Cleveland Clinic is a good steward of public health in Northeast Ohio, but court documents have proven otherwise. The Clinic deliberately mismanaged Lakewood Hospital to make it appear to be unprofitable. Their egregious and morally corrupt actions contributed directly to the closing of our publicly owned hospital, putting lives at risk, and have deprived us of our largest employer. We are rallying to demand restitution. It is time The Clinic put lives before their Wall Street style corporate greed.

In December of 2015, city officials taking the advice of Clinic personnel and surrogates, passed legislation that gave Lakewood’s publicly owned community hospital to the Cleveland Clinic, literally at pennies on the dollar. There was no open bidding process. City officials ignored three offers from qualified health care operators.

Our hospital’s future remains in limbo until the time when city officials, required by law, place the hospital issue on the ballot in 2016.

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City council selects a date to select a date

The most recent issue of the Lakewood Observer, released Tuesday, described the Feb. 11 meeting of city council as follows:

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.

A second meeting held Tuesday evening changed little of this. According to cleveland.com, City Council “likely” will deal with the petition on March 7—a further three weeks’ delay. Presumably at that time, council will move on to the issue of when a referendum will take place; how long it will take members to conclude that decision-making process is anyone’s guess.

The Observer’s suggestion, that city officials remain wary of direct and transparent accountability to voters, appears valid.

Obstructionist Council Blows Opportunity to End Public Strife with March Vote

For Immediate Release —

Last night, 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 seven votes that the hospital was closed. Pit those seven 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 an ongoing taxpayer lawsuit against city officials and the Cleveland Clinic 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.Read More

High Tide Moment at Special Council Meeting Tonight – Citizens Rally in Front of City Hall

For Immediate Release —

Lakewood City Council has at last fulfilled our committee’s request for a special meeting to consider its response to the citizen’s petition to repeal Ordinance 49-15 that closed Lakewood Hospital.

There is only one way that council can stop the citizen’s referendum from appearing on the 2016 ballot. That is to repeal Ordinance 49-15 by their own accord.

“Anticipation is high as citizens wonder what council will do,” Committee Petition Coordinator Pam Wetula stated. “Will they repeal the deal tonight or will they take immediate action to place the deal on the March ballot while there still might be time to do so? Or will council procrastinate and place it on the ballot later this year? The meeting tonight is a high tide moment in the controversy surrounding the hospital issue. The pressure is all on council’s shoulders. We pray for a just conclusion.”

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will hold a rally in front of Lakewood City Hall tonight at 6 PM. The Council meeting will commence tonight at 6:30 PM.

Download as a Microsoft Word file.

For questions and comments, our contact information is below.

Save Lives, Save Jobs, Save Lakewood, Save Lakewood Hospital.

Thank You,

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital Committee
216-344-0743

Hospital Issue Will Be On 2016 Ballot – But When?

For Immediate Release —

One week ago, Lakewood City Council was informed by The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee that a petition to put the hospital issue on the ballot in 2016 would soon be placed in their hands.

With seven days to ponder the issue, council has yet to make a decision.

To make the March ballot, council must call a special session and vote to put it on that ballot. Council’s continued silence will mean the issue is headed to the November ballot, or else a special election which would cost Lakewood taxpayers between $100,000 and $150,000. The Board of Elections can only wait for so long.

This is a big decision and the sooner made, the better for everyone involved. Otherwise, the future of the hospital remains in limbo.

We respectfully advocate that Lakewood City Council assemble in special session today or tomorrow and allow voters to freely choose, in March, what the future of their health care will be.

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Unsure, Lakewood Council Procrastinates While Deadline Looms

For Immediate Release —

The Board of Elections has delivered the certified signatures needed to place a referendum for the future of the Lakewood Hospital on the ballot. By law, the referendum is guaranteed to be up for a vote in this calendar year. It is in the hands of city council to decide when.

“We advocate that the referendum be placed on the March ballot,” said Pam Wetula, petition committee coordinator. “But if council continues to procrastinate and does not meet next week’s deadline set by the Board of Elections, then it will be up for a vote later this year. Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to delay big decisions like this. We all hope council makes a decision soon.”

To make the deadline, council must call a special session to vote to place the referendum on the March ballot. If they do not make that deadline then the issue will be placed in a costly special election, possibly occurring as late as August, or wind up on the November ballot.

The closure of the Lakewood Hospital is not a done deal. The very existence of the certified referendum petition triggers a vote that determines the future of the hospital. The sooner the issue is placed on the ballot, the sooner the citizens of Lakewood can freely choose the future of their healthcare.

“The deadline looms,” Wetula added. “Procrastination only perpetuates disunity, dysfunction and delays a chance to heal this community’s wounds.”

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Thursday: fundraiser & special council meeting

This Thursday, Feb. 11, the Save Lakewood Hospital calendar includes two very important events: a fundraiser, and an evening rally at city hall.

First, a fundraiser at Angelo’s Pizza from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Angelo’s will donate 20% of any food or soft drink purchase! Just mention Save Lakewood Hospital with your order, and help fund efforts to overturn the planned closure of our hospital. Angelo’s is located at 13715 Madison Ave.

Second, Lakewood City Council has scheduled a special meeting for to address the citizen petition to overturn the hospital closing. The Board of Elections has confirmed that petitioners collected more than enough valid signatures to require a referendum in 2016. Council must approve the petition, themselves, or else schedule the referendum—but members have remained slow to act.

We invite everyone who supports keeping Lakewood’s hospital open to attend a rally at 6 p.m., followed by Thursday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. Help us call on City Council to end the delays. Join us at City Hall, 12650 Detroit Ave.

Download a flier to share about the rally.

Hospital Referendum Process Continues

For Immediate Release —

The process to place a referendum to repeal the ordinance to close Lakewood Hospital on the March ballot is very much alive and continues tonight (February 1st), as The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee prepares to address Lakewood City Council.

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will ask council to schedule a special meeting to approve the referendum’s language, to meet a February 9th deadline so it can make the March ballot.

“People on both sides of this issue are anxious to get this vote on the ballot as soon as possible,” petition coordinator Pam Wetula stated. “Our committee members have worked very hard to gather the necessary signatures and The Board of Elections is working equally hard to move the process along as quickly as possible. We hope that City Council matches these efforts and does their part to keep this process on track for a spot on the March ballot.”

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Board of Election officials have indicated that they will complete the current phase of the process and have their certification to Lakewood city officials to execute the next phase of the process by Thursday, February 4.

The city council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

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Necessity for a referendum, explained

Citizens’ petitions for a referendum on the planned closure of Lakewood Hospital have been delivered to the Board of Elections. Some inside (and outside) City Hall continue to oppose the idea of a citizen vote on this issue, meanwhile; one petitioner has offered a thoughtful explanation via The Lakewood Observer:

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.” 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.

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.

Read the rest at The Observer.

Lakewood Hospital Issue Can Make March Ballot

For Immediate Release—

It has come to our attention that cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer have posted a headline that reads “Lakewood Hospital referendum too late for March ballot.” This is simply not the case. By submitting our petition with its signatures 9 days ahead of the deadline established in the Lakewood City Charter, the process to place the issue on the March ballot is in motion early. There is still time to for the issue to be placed on the ballot.

We are confident that the competent and efficient staff at The Board of Elections will do everything in their power to see that it does make the March Ballot.

Read More

Referendum petitions delivered to city hall

Joined by members of Save Lakewood Hospital and the local media, a citizens’ committee turned in petitions Thursday morning to allow a March referendum on the planned closure of the city’s hospital.

Petitioners collected more than 3,400 signatures in just over three weeks, frequently in the face of snow and bitter cold. Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young, who addressed media ahead of time, observed that this demonstrates the breadth of concern over a rushed, once-sided deal and the determination of everyday Lakewoodites to stand up for the community.

Acknowledgement of petitions' delivery.
Official acknowledgement.

For more, see coverage at WTAM, cleveland.com, Channel 19 and WKSU.

Referendum petition delivery and press event

For Immediate Release —

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 21 promptly at 10 AM, The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will deliver to Lakewood City Hall the needed signatures to place a referendum on the March ballot to repeal City Ordinance 49-15. Ordinance 49-15 transferred ownership of Lakewood Hospital from the city’s citizens to The Cleveland Clinic literally at pennies on the dollar.

Just prior to delivering the petitions and its signatures to our city’s Clerk of Council, we will hold a press conference outside of City Hall. An address will be made by our committee’s spokesperson and we will be happy to take questions from the press and citizens.

The controversial ordinance was passed by city officials even after court proceedings exposed documents proving that Lakewood Hospital was deliberately mismanaged to create a false narrative of obsolescence and non-profitability. Additionally, city officials turned their backs on three proposals by qualified health care providers, who had viable plans to operate the hospital at a profit and for the benefit of our citizens and surrounding communities. There was no open bidding process.

We are advocating an open bidding process for our city’s hospital that will include multiple health care operators. We intend to see Ordinance 49-15 repealed so that our community can lay claim to the best health care that the open marketplace offers. Repealing this deal will mark a new beginning to a bright and vibrant local economy while, more importantly, saving lives that would otherwise be at risk if our hospital closes.

We look forward to seeing you at Lakewood City Hall tomorrow at 10 AM.

Read More

Referendum updates & next steps

Lakewood citizens are gathering signatures for a fair, direct referendum to approve or reject the planned closure of Lakewood Hospital. Despite the arrival of winter at last, ordinary people continue working to give all of us this chance to be heard.

Wednesday, January 20: take advantage of two open petition-signings. Petitioners will be at Lakewood Park, and Madison Park, from 5 to 7 p.m.

If you are collecting signatures, please contact Pam Wetula soon to turn in the lists you have so far: 440.341.5626.

Everyone can help in preventing a huge loss for the future of Lakewood:

  • Sign a petition: Petitioners are collecting signatures at many locations in Lakewood; you can also contact referendum organizers to arrange a time to sign at your convenience.
  • Help gather signatures: Thank you to all who have completed petition training, please keep up the great work so far!
  • Spread the word: Share information about the referendum and Lakewood Hospital on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and in good old face-to-face conversation.

Signature collection will continue into the second half of January—watch for updates—but the sooner that petitions are signed and turned in the better!

Save Lakewood Hospital campaign continues

For Immediate Release –

Today as the announcement was made that Lakewood Hospital will cease providing inpatient care, we continue to gather signatures for a referendum on the March ballot to save the hospital. There was no open bidding for the hospital deal even though 3 viable health care operators expressed earnest interest in maintaining and improving Lakewood Hospital. Our city taxes will go up and health care for Lakewood and surrounding communities will be compromised by this morally corrupt move to close Lakewood Hospital. We continue our campaign.

Read More

A referendum on Lakewood’s Hospital

City council has voted to liquidate Lakewood’s community hospital at the behest of Cleveland Clinic—but council does not have the final say. Lakewood citizens are gathering signatures for a fair, direct referendum to approve or reject council’s vote. Please support this opportunity for an honest, firm decision on the future of our city:

Signature collection will continue through the first half of January—watch for updates—but like all New Year projects getting started sooner rather than later is best!

Consequences if Lakewood Hospital closes

Every deal involves winners and losers. That approved by Lakewood city council earlier this month, if allowed to proceed, will be no exception:

Winners in the Master Agreement

  • Cleveland Clinic uses city cash and assets to build an office building that they will own.
  • The Clinic eliminates competition and controls health care in Lakewood.
  • The Clinic gets Lakewood city assets for pennies on the dollar.
  • The Clinic skips out on remaining 10 years of lease.

Losers in the Agreement

  • Lakewood loses profitable acute care hospital and full service emergency room.
  • City deprived of competing health care providers. No competition means higher costs of health care.
  • 1,100 employees of Lakewood Hospital lose jobs in Lakewood.
  • City trades Hospital assets valued at $120 million and gets less than $45 million. We lose at least $75 million.
  • Lakewood residents faced with long stressful rides in emergency vehicles to other hospitals.
  • In addition, Lakewood loses $20 million in revenue over 10 years.
  • With no hospital, Lakewood citizens face tax increase.
  • Thousands of senior citizens lose access to nearby hospital.
  • Lakewood loses doctors who move their practices to be near a hospital.

This information is also available as a PDF you can download and print.

Officials fail city, future in citizens’ hands

On Monday evening, Lakewood city council rubber-stamped a secretly negotiated 11th-hour plan to surrender Lakewood Hospital to Cleveland Clinic. The Clinic intends, with this authority, to complete its illicit decanting of what has always been a community-owned hospital, and to lock up health care in Lakewood for Clinic-owned hospitals elsewhere. Facing multiple lawsuits and possible investigations of their maladministration, the Clinic and its apologists apparently hope to thwart justice with a fait accompli.

The people of Lakewood do not have to let this happen. Council has embraced a false narrative of the Clinic or nothing, blatantly ignoring the active overtures of a fully qualified alternative. Lakewood owes it to future generations, as well as the most vulnerable populations now and tomorrow, to employ every legal means to block the handover of our hospital and negotiate an alternative to the Cleveland Clinic’s dishonesty and theft.

Please don’t begin the coming year by giving up on your community. If council has lost the will to fight for Lakewood’s interests, honest working citizens have not.

10 Things About Lakewood Hospital

The following review of Lakewood Hospital facts is also available as a PDF you can download and print out.

1) Lakewood Hospital is Owned by the Citizens Of Lakewood. The land and buildings, every MRI, ultrasound, operating table, every piece of lab equipment—right down to each light bulb—are all owned by Lakewood residents.

2) The Clinic Leases the Hospital. There are 10 more years left on the lease.

3) A $400 Million Lawsuit Has Unearthed Secret Documents and testimonies revealing that the Clinic planned and implemented the destruction of Lakewood Hospital with empty promises to make the hospital sustainable for years to come. Dennis Kucinich explains in this video.

4) The Hospital Was Profitable until this year, even after the Clinic removed nearly two dozen services and departments beginning in 2007, culminating this past January with the closing of the cardiac catheterization lab. The Clinic said the state health department made them close this most profitable unit, which was not true. The City’s three representatives on the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) board did nothing. City Council stood by tacitly as the hospital was steadily emptied of valuable resources.

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Council’s response to critics: misdirection & hand-waving

The City of Lakewood web site now includes a FAQ about the proposed new “Master Agreement” with Cleveland Clinic. Naturally—given the disastrous proposal it defends—it is another muddle of evasions and internal contradictions.

The highlight, as such, was posted Friday at the Observation Deck forum:

Q: “What makes you trust the Clinic?”
A: “…Trust doesn’t enter in this. It’s about the numbers and the assurances in the legally binding agreement…”

Q: “Why can’t you detail all the services that will be available at the new health center?”
A: “The city doesn’t want to be in the business of micromanaging any health care providers’ services…”

So, it isn’t about trust, it’s about the “assurances in the legally binding agreement”. But there aren’t any assurances because we don’t “want to be in the business of micromanaging”.

The assertion that Lakewood will be guaranteed anything by a “legally binding agreement” with Cleveland Clinic is daft. Cleveland Clinic cheats. By contrast, Mayor Summers’s administration has already refused to support a lawsuit against the Clinic’s sabotage of the current agreement, and Summers himself said this fall that “I don’t believe in suing and auditing your way to success.”

Read More

Skindell files Open Meetings Act Lawsuit

Michael J. Skindell today announced that he has filed action in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (MICHAEL J. SKINDELL v. MARY LOUISE MADIGAN, ET AL., Civil Case Number CV-15-855961) alleging that Lakewood City Council violated Ohio’s Open Meeting Act when the council held multiple closed meetings to deliberate and draft an agreement to close Lakewood Hospital. Skindell is currently the State Senator representing Lakewood in the Ohio Legislature.

The Open Meetings Act requires that all public bodies take official action and conduct all deliberations only in open meetings where the public can attend and observe. R.C. § 121.22(A). The law allows a public body to hold an “executive session”, i.e., closed meeting, on certain matters including purchase of property or sale of property in some competitive bidding situations. R.C. § 121.22(G) and (J). Official action by a public body which violates the provision of the Open Meeting Act is invalid. R.C. § 121.22(H).

In the action alleging that city council violated the law, Michael Skindell cites  the fact that reasons supplied for the executive sessions — [g]eneral conversation about the Letter of Intent submitted to Council by the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA), the Lakewood Hospital Foundation (LHF), and Cleveland Clinic (referred 1/20/15), including the potential purchase of property; the sale of real or personal property by competitive bid if disclosure of the information would result in a competitive advantage to the person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest; and/or pending litigation — were not proper topics for closed meetings. In addition, matters discussed were beyond the reasons in the notice. Skindell points out that although there were reasons noticed for the closed session such as purchase of property by the city, and sale of property by competitive bid, there was no purchase of property or sale of property by competitive bidding as part of the agreement.

Michael Skindell stated: “During my eighteen years in public office I have always advocated for transparency and accountability in government. This action against Lakewood City Council is to correct, in what I perceive, an abuse of the public trust. Citizens have a right to know what their government is up to and how they reached their decisions. It is my belief that Lakewood City Council violated the law in reaching their agreement involving the closing of Lakewood Hospital. I have a responsibility to the people to ensure that government is open and accountable to the public.”

Judge Stuart Friendman has scheduled a hearing for Monday, December 21, 2015, to consider a Skindell’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

Council Can’t Defend a Bad Deal

The public’s message to city council is clear. Nearly 80% of the public comments that stretched Monday evening’s meeting for three and one-half hours were opposed to the new “Master Agreement” to close Lakewood Hospital and hand city assets over to Cleveland Clinic.

Council members, by contrast, tied themselves into rhetorical knots trying to defend the indefensible.

The most revealing example may be Councilman Tom Bullock’s assertion that “Some times your choices are between two bad… I think that’s what we’re in here.” This summarized a theme repeated throughout the evening, that council is trying to deal with “reality” and that an imperfect deal with Cleveland Clinic is better than an alternative of a bankrupt hospital. As one public speaker after another pointed out, however, the two bad choices proposed by Mr. Bullock are a false reality created by Council; city officials have not only failed to make a sincere pursuit of alternatives, but have recently refused even to engage with one alternative that has actively sought them out.

Councilman David Anderson claimed that “we cannot compel LHA to reopen the process” to contact alternative hospital systems, and Councilman Shawn Juris insisted that city officials “don’t have a direct obligation, or a way to compel a health care provider to provide services.” Yet this is blatantly contradicted by council’s own repeated statements.

In May, Council vice president Ryan Nowlin wrote—in a letter actively soliciting information from Metrohealth—that “City council is 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.” During Monday’s meeting, Councilman Bullock stated that “If the Tennessee group [Surgical Development Partners] makes a concrete proposal” he would be interested in talking to them; meanwhile the repeated references by every member of council to “negotiations” with Cleveland Clinic confirm that council not only has more leverage than Mr. Anderson proposed, but has also applied a double-standard in exempting Cleveland Clinic from the demands it would apply to Surgical Development Partners.

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Problems with the proposed new Cleveland Clinic “deal”

On Monday evening, Save Lakewood Hospital’s chair Marguerite Harkness and vice-chair Tom Monahan presented a review of the proposed “Master Agreement” to close Lakewood Hospital. If approved, this would be a bad deal for Lakewood in many ways:

The agreement would cancel the 11 years remaining on Cleveland Clinic’s lease of the hospital and absolve the Clinic of all its associated responsibilities, costing Lakewood millions.

The emergency department would be substantially smaller than Lakewood Hospital’s, and require several thousand people per year to find emergency care elsewhere. Emergency services will undoubtedly do their best to help people reach that care—but constantly transporting people to hospitals outside Lakewood will inevitably stretch response times. (No wonder the real, front-line crews are concerned.)

The agreement supposedly will arrange for a Cleveland Clinic mobile stroke unit “to be allowed to be used in Lakewood.” This is an existing Clinic unit—one, only—which already exists and is based at Lutheran Hospital where it will remain. Lakewood gains essentially nothing here.

All of the contents of Lakewood Hospital—which still belongs to the people of Lakewood and always has—are to be handed over to Cleveland Clinic without compensation or even an appraisal.

Cleveland Clinic will acquire Lakewood Hospital’s property at 850 Columbia Road for approximately $8 million; County property records value the building at more than $13 million and Surgical Development Partners recently presented Lakewood with an initial offer of $9 million.

The relatively small payment to Lakewood, by Cleveland Clinic, is to be made in installments over more than a decade. The Clinic’s annual revenues are nearly $10 billion, next to which the total of these payments is microscopic, which raises questions about why the Clinic wants to delay them and whether it is any more likely to fulfill the terms of a new agreement than those of the current one.

The city promises to restrict the “prime land” cited as an exciting benefit of closing the hospital, in ways that will effectively block any other health care firm from providing services there.

The Family Health Center with which Cleveland Clinic proposes to replace Lakewood Hospital is scheduled to open in the middle of 2018, but the agreement explicitly includes provision for that date to slide into mid-2019. This says much about the priority that Cleveland Clinic will attach to health care in Lakewood.

Explaining the proposal: Monday, Dec. 14

Lakewood City Council has scheduled a special meeting for December 14—at a special, early time—for a second reading of its proposed agreement to close Lakewood Hospital.

At 5:00 p.m., Save Lakewood Hospital will explain the misguided details of the proposed Agreement with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Please join us on Monday at City Hall. (Unlike city officials’ closed-door press conference, all will be welcome at our presentation.) Stick around afterward and at 6 p.m. confront council with the real people whom they are trying to ignore.

Other important dates in the next week:

Sunday, Dec. 13 at 4:00 p.m., Save Lakewood Hospital has a meeting in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Main Branch of Lakewood Library. Please try to attend.

Thursday, Dec. 17th. Angelo’s Pizza at 13715 Madison is an all-time favorite haunt of Lakewoodites, and SLH is having a fundraiser there from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Angelo’s will donate 20% of all food and non-alcoholic drinks – provided you mention the Save Lakewood Hospital fundraiser. Good on: Dine-in, Carry-out, Delivery, Gift Cards…. just be sure to mention the Save Lakewood Hospital fundraiser.

What’s New?

Save Lakewood Hospital’s PJ Bennett provides a summary of recent news and interpretive context:

Three times now, the Mayor and LHA have turned down offers from entities interested in keeping Lakewood Hospital a hospital.

Pretty crazy, huh?  They are bound and determined to turn the hospital into rubble for a medical office bldg., an under-glorified ‘ER’ and some retail.  Wow.

Like I and many others have said, it’s all about the money.

Who in their right mind would refuse more money than what is being offered by Cleveland Clinic?

Anyway, here’s a link to a recent post on cleveland.com.

Mayors in other cities are fighting to keep hospitals in their cities, while the Mayor of Lakewood is giving ours away.

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New Cleveland Clinic plan crafted in secrecy, sprung in haste

After weeks of rumors, on Monday evening Lakewood city officials unveiled another plan to close Lakewood Hospital, at an unannounced press conference just hours before a city council meeting. Council plans to make a second reading of the plan on December 14, at an additional meeting that was also a last-minute announcement (and, as of Tuesday morning, is still unlisted on the city’s online calendar). The regular meeting on December 21 is currently proposed for a third reading and vote.

The outline released on Monday is, as observed by WKYC, not materially different from the “Letter of Intent” produced by Cleveland Clinic nearly a year ago. (Click here for a PDF of the “master agreement” text.)

Despite having withheld notice of this proposal as long as possible, council was joined by a substantial number of citizens Monday evening. At least a dozen people spoke to council about the proposal, all but one of whom were critical of Cleveland Clinic, the plan, and the questionable haste in a two-week lead-up to a vote four days before Christmas with two lame-duck council members.

Many people also urged council to live up to the responsibilities professed by one of its own members in May, and to invite Surgical Development Partners to a fair hearing of its interest in Lakewood Hospital properties. No official addressed these pleas at Monday’s meeting, however in a statement to the press, Law Director Kevin Butler insisted that the mysterious losses which have been reported at Lakewood Hospital for well over a year are now, suddenly, so urgent that Lakewood cannot spare any time to hear from SDP.

Meanwhile, with a lawsuit in progress, and two requests for independent investigations which may become even more compelling as a result of these proceedings, the viability of officials’ intention to “move forward” will remain in doubt.

Everyone concerned about Lakewood Hospital—and about the basic values of honest, inclusive, responsible government—is encouraged to contact members of council.

A partner for Lakewood Hospital asks for a hearing

Scene‘s Eric Sandy has published a letter, from Surgical Development Partners of Tennessee, confirming its interest as a potential partner for Lakewood Hospital. From the November 30 letter to Lakewood Hospital Association and members of Lakewood’s government:

…Surgical Development Partners desires to make it clear and avoid any confusion by stating again that it remains extremely interested in purchasing the 850 Columbia Road property [owned by Lakewood Hospital] at a competitive fair market value and also in developing the Lakewood Hospital campus to continue medical and emergency services to the community.

The letter formally requests an opportunity to address the upcoming City Council meeting, Monday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

In a story at cleveland.com, Save Lakewood Hospital vice chair Tom Monahan said “It shows there are entities out there willing to come in. To slam the door on Lakewood residents is unconscionable.”

Surgical Development Partners, according to its web site, “has the industry specific experience and knowledge to tackle the complexities of opening and managing physician owned acute care hospitals in difficult political environments [emphasis added].” Its inclusion of Ohio’s attorney general on its correspondence with LHA suggests that it has, indeed, learned valuable precautions from this highly relevant experience.

December Fundraisers: Angelo’s & JB’s

Save Lakewood Hospital remains active and determined as ever to defend our city’s financial and health care future! We are currently planning our next campaign to promote awareness of what’s at stake, and what we can do about it.

Making this as effective as possible, however, will require printing, mailing, etc. Therefore we invite all friends of supporters of our hospital to take part in our two December fundraisers:

Tuesday, December 8: Jammy Buggar’s. Stop in any time all day long (11:30 a.m. to midnight) and mention Save Lakewood Hospital, and JB’s will donate 15% of your order as part of “Pay It Forward Tuesday.” (15625 Detroit Ave.)

Thursday, December 17: Angelo’s Pizza will donate 20% of any food or soft drink purchase! Just mention Save Lakewood Hospital with your order. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (13715 Madison Ave.)

Gift cards are a great choice for anyone on your holiday shopping list, too!

Election Analysis

A local offers some nuanced analysis of last week’s election, via the Lakewood Observer:

…Issue 64 was not, itself, a referendum on closing Lakewood Hospital. What’s more, its defeat serves as a reminder that Lakewood’s electorate is home to more than one viewpoint. In studying the results of last Tuesday’s vote, it’s worth examining the point of view of Issue 64’s opponents. One of the most prominent publications to oppose Issue 64 warned that it “could doom Lakewood Hospital,” which certainly casts doubt on whether its defeat represented a mandate to close that same hospital.

The most consistent argument offered against Issue 64, on the other hand, may have been that the hospital’s future should be left up to City Council. If, in light of the issue’s rejection, we regard this proposition as endorsed by voters, it suggests that Tuesday’s results as a whole were a qualified vote against closing Lakewood Hospital.

No person or issue on this year’s ballot campaigned, formally, on a message that “Lakewood Hospital should close.” (Based on published candidate statements, mailings and web sites.) By contrast, a majority of council candidates approved by voters have criticized the proposed hospital closure and argued that Lakewood’s interests should be better defended.

Read more at lakewoodobserver.com

Humor with a point

As observed in Scene—and many, many other places—much of the argument surrounding Lakewood Hospital has bled into side-arguments and meta-controversies bordering on the surreal. Save Lakewood Hospital has tried to emphasize facts, and core issues. Yet the occasional, intentional diversion into humor does have its value, both as relief from a tense period for the community and possibly as a way to make an important point at the same time.

One recent post at the Lakewood Observer‘s online forum accomplishes both, to a degree that seems worth highlighting. Though the following is purely fictional and for entertainment purposes only, it does bear some resemblance to actual events which may or may not be intentional.Read More

Heed the Call of a Pillar of Medicine: Don’t Do It Again!

From the Lakewood Observer Observation Deck Forum:

Post by Brian Essi » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:55 pm

Pillar of Medicine Award winner Terry E. Kilroy, M.D. is known by many thousands as a very dedicated physician who healed them and saved their lives. He has spent a great amount of his life in Lakewood Hospital. Each day, he gives the finest care to many–frequently without compensation. He is truly a great human being and a crown jewel at Lakewood Hospital.

What many may not know is that Dr. Kilroy was around in 1986 and in 1996 and warned City leaders and the rest of us back then of exactly what we are facing now.

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Questions That Need Answers

From the Lakewood Observer:

http://lakewoodobserver.com/read/2015/04/28/questions-that-need-answers

The Lakewood City Council needs to answer certain specific questions in order make a valid judgement regarding our future health care, specifically the CCF Letter of Intent to close Lakewood Hospital. These answers need to be based on accurate, unbiased and comprehensive data derived from impartial and independent sources rather than those released only by the Cleveland Clinic.

First, what are the hospital needs of the citizens of Lakewood and our service area (Zip codes 44107, 44102, 44111, 44116 and 44135)? The average need in Ohio is 2.6 acute care beds per 1000 population. This indicates a need for 135 beds (2.6/1000 x 52,000) for our citizens and a total of 400 beds for our service area. We need to know four things regarding our current needs: 1) What are the hospitalized medical diagnoses (ICD-9 codes) and surgical procedures (CPT codes) that led to current hospitalizations? 2) Which hospitals were utilized by these patients and with what distribution? 3) What is the trend over the past 10 years for these numbers? 4) What is the reimbursement for each of these diagnoses and procedures?
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Big Enough to Support a Hospital

Much of the argument about the future of Lakewood Hospital has become ever more inward-looking, the longer it has continued. Deluged with negative messages, many participants have accepted a premise that a full hospital in Lakewood is “guilty until proven innocent,” i.e. assumed to be unsustainable without concrete evidence to the contrary. Advocates of closing the hospital insist that there is “no plan” specific to Lakewood Hospital guaranteeing its continued operation, and that therefore none can ever be worked out.

Beyond the impracticality of obtaining a finished agreement to run Lakewood Hospital when the city’s present government refuses to engage seriously with alternate partners, this logic has another flaw: there is still a world outside of Lakewood. The Plain Dealer may not deign to report on it, but it is out there nonetheless, and includes other communities with relevant experience.

The city of Anamosa is certainly one of these. A friend of Save Lakewood Hospital who grew up there writes:

When I tell my family about my efforts to help Save Lakewood Hospital, this year, they are mystified. They are mystified that there is an argument over whether Lakewood ought to have a hospital.

My home town of Anamosa, Iowa, is slightly more than one-tenth the size of Lakewood. But it has a hospital. With inpatient services, surgeries, rehabilitation, etc.

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JP Findlay’s Project

The producer of a short video (it’s been fixed again) of Lakewood firefighters commenting on Lakewood Hospital, JP Findlay also had this to say – in early 2015:

“Lakewood Hospital, in local Lakewood, Ohio recently announced it would be closing it’s doors at the end of 2016. A decision that has left many Lakewood paramedics uneasy, to say the least.

Owned by the city and occupied by the Cleveland Clinic since 1996, Lakewood Hospital has a current lease on the building it occupies until 2026. The hospital is a 233-bed inpatient facility, which boasts a comprehensive stroke center, emergency department and cancer center.

Lakewood Hospital is perhaps most well-known as a highly regarded neurology center.Read More

Firefighters on Lakewood Hospital

The following commentary by members of Lakewood Fire Department was produced independently, prior to being brought to the attention of Save Lakewood Hospital. The original video was temporarily deleted several hours after coming to public notice; it is currently online again, though only available for viewing at the hosting site vimeo. We strongly recommend its message to the widest audience possible.

LFD on Lakewood Hospital Closing from Joe Finley on Vimeo.

Kucinich Asks FTC to Save Lakewood Hospital; Seeks Investigation

Former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich today filed a massive 80-count declaration with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, that asks the FTC to help save Lakewood Hospital by opening an investigation into the planned closing of the hospital by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF).

Kucinich’s action is welcome news to the Save Lakewood Hospital group because it expands documentation of the plot by the Clinic to shut down the 108-year-old community hospital, said vice chairman of Save Lakewood Hospital Tom Monahan. “It is a massive, well-reasoned, well-researched document that validates all of the efforts of those residents who have worked so hard to save our biggest asset and largest employer”, he said.

Kucinich asks that the FTC take legal action to protect Lakewood Hospital from being closed and merging all of Lakewood’s assets into the Clinic system.

Marguerite Harkness, chairperson of Save Lakewood Hospital said: “Mr. Kucinich researched additional resources that our investigators had not yet pursued and they show how the Clinic’s decanting plan to eradicate Lakewood Hospital was in the planning stages for a long time.”

The former Congressman cited the Letter of Intent (LOI) that is being used to structure a new Master Agreement as a self-serving document between the CCF and the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA). He points out that the LOI calls for the LHA to use its money to tear down the hospital, through language that was approved by the LHA and three of its members: Mayor Mike Summers, lame duck council president Mary Louise Madigan and councilman Tom Bullock.

Kucinich served Lakewood for two years as a state senator and 16 years as a Congressman.

The FTC filing is available online.

Administrative costs rise nearly 900% in 12 years?

Beginning in 2001, financial statements for Lakewood Hospital Association introduced a line for “Administrative services” costs. Starting at $2.4 million in 2001, these costs balloon to more than twenty-four million dollars in 2013. Save Lakewood Hospital has questioned high fees paid by LHA to the Cleveland Clinic for operating Lakewood Hospital, before, but the exact progression of this line item through 14 years should be sobering reading for everyone interested in Lakewood’s future:

2001: $2,479,000
2002: $2,970,000
2003: $3,459,000
2004: $5,925,000
2005: $6,093,000
2006: $7,349,000
2007: $10,887,000
2008: $14,864,000
2009: $15,083,000
2010: $20,727,000
2011: $23,810,000
2012: $23,043,000
2013: $24,438,000
2014: $24,305,000

Curiously, the bill for these Administrative services has ballooned fastest through those years which, the LHA and City of Lakewood have complained, Lakewood Hospital has been losing money owing to declining activity. It’s also worth noting that between 2008 and 2014, alone, the LHA paid $146 million for Administrative services—more than the entire predicted cost of building Cleveland Clinic’s new Avon hospital from the ground up.

Yet the nature of these expenses remains unexplained and unquestioned by the same LHA trustees and city administrators consistently asserting that Lakewood Hospital is financially unviable.

Lakewood Hospital and Lakewood deserve better stewardship than this.

Note: audited financial statements for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 are available from the City of Lakewood’s web site. Earlier statements have been released, by city Law Director Kevin Butler, in connection with a taxpayers’ lawsuit; please see this PDF with 2001 and 2002 Administrative services costs as comparison.

2015 candidates information

This November’s election will be tremendously important to the future of Lakewood and our hospital. As an informational campaign, Save Lakewood Hospital does not endorse any candidate for office. We do encourage every eligible voter to examine local races closely, however, and vote!

As a starting point, we offer this guide to candidate statements, interviews, etc.

General information: League of Women Voters guide (Sept. 29 Lakewood Observer pp. 12-13); cleveland.com council candidate discussions of Lakewood Hospital, charter amendment

Mayor of Lakewood: candidates interview at cleveland.com

City Council Ward 1

City Council Ward 2

City Council Ward 3

City Council Ward 4

Elect Skindell for Mayor to save Lakewood Hospital: Sun Post Herald Letter to the Editor

The following is a letter posted on Cleveland.com

Our State Senator, Lakewood resident and former Lakewood Councilman Michael Skindell, a candidate for mayor of Lakewood, has publicly stated Lakewood Hospital (which Lakewood owns) can and should be saved.

He is right, but his opponent, Mayor Mike Summers, publicly, wrongly states it should be closed, as Cleveland Clinic, which leases it till 2026, insists, because it does not want Lakewood Hospital competing with its new hospital in Avon. MetroHealth expressed interest in running Lakewood Hospital, but that proposal was sabotaged by Summers. Electing Skindell will give Lakewood a fresh start with MetroHealth and an honest effort to find a good partner to run Lakewood Hospital, even if it has less beds and adds a wellness center. Lawyers for the Save Lakewood Hospital organization suing in court to save the hospital have discovered documents proving Cleveland Clinic planned years ago to weaken and close Lakewood Hospital.

Legislation introduced Sept. 8 in Lakewood City Council by lame duck councilwoman Mary Louise Madigan and councilman Tom Bullock (both voted to close the hospital as its trustees) and councilman Sam O’Leary would, if passed, authorize Law Director Kevin Butler to negotiate with Cleveland Clinic to close Lakewood Hospital. It does not allow Butler to negotiate with MetroHealth or anybody else that wants to save Lakewood Hospital. So it is a dirty deal from bad intentions, to serve Cleveland Clinic. In Ward 3, Mark Schneider is running for City Council. He wants to save Lakewood Hospital – unlike his opponent John Litten, who voted to close it as a Lakewood Hospital Trustee.

In the November general election a referendum should be on the ballot, by Save Lakewood Hospital, for Lakewood residents to vote to save the hospital, despite certain untrustworthy politicians acting as puppets of Cleveland Clinic, and big business vultures who would profit by replacing the hospital with something less valuable to the Lakewood public.

Steve Gannis,

Lakewood

Upcoming rally, meetings schedule

The first week of October is very busy for the debate about Lakewood Hospital.

Thursday, Oct. 1: Candidate Forum from 7-9 pm in Lakewood City Hall Auditorium. Candidates for School Board, Municipal Judge, City Council and Mayor will present their positions. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions. (Please note, campaign literature, apparel, signage, buttons, etc are not permitted inside the auditorium. Photography, audio and/or video recording of the candidates is prohibited.)

Saturday Oct. 3 Lakewood Hospital Informational Meeting from 9:30 – 11:30 am in Mr. Winton’s Den at Winton Place, 12700 Lake Ave.
(Tell the front desk that you are there for a meeting in Mr. Winton’s Den. You will be directed from there.)

Terry Kilroy, MD; Ashoka Nautiyal, MD; and Lakewood Hospital Foundation Physician Designees will be there; as well as Michael Summers, Mayor of Lakewood; and Michael Skindell, Ohio State Senator, District 23.

R.S.V.P. if you plan on attending as space is limited.
Nancy Roth: 216.375.5812 or Pat Vecchio: 216.228.6841

Sunday, October 4 Save Lakewood Hospital meeting at 4 p.m. in the main Lakewood Library.

Monday, October 5 Rally at 6:30 p.m. ahead of the City Council meeting, 12650 Detroit Ave. Wear RED! Bring Save Lakewood Hospital Signs! Tell your relatives, friends and neighbors… and children! We are kid-friendly!

More about St. Michael’s, Richmond

Former congressman Dennis Kucinich has been very active, during the past week, in promoting the fight for Lakewood Hospital. In addition to hosting local events, he has requested an investigation by Ohio’s attorney general.

Kucinich’s involvement has not proved popular with everyone. On Thursday, city council president Mary Madigan and law director Kevin Butler derided Kucinich’s actions, as well as his past efforts on behalf of St. Michael’s. Save Lakewood Hospital has reviewed facts about St. Michael’s, already; yesterday City of South Euclid councilman Marty Gelfand penned this further response about why efforts like Mr. Kucinich’s make a difference:

September 27, 2015

To the Editor of the Plain Dealer:

I read “Kucinich seeks state protection of assets,” (Sept. 25) and was taken aback by Councilwoman Madigan’s comments.

I was Congressman Kucinich’s senior counsel when we saved St. Michael and Richmond Heights hospitals. Those hospitals would have been leveled in early 2000 but for our intervention in state, federal, and Bankruptcy courts.  Cleveland Clinic would have fired every St. Michael employee on the spot if we had not legally blocked its maneuver. When St. Michael did close 3 years later, every employee was placed either in the UH system or in other area hospitals.

University Hospital Richmond Medical Center is thriving today, serving our constituents in South Euclid and competing with Cleveland Clinic hospitals in the eastern suburbs. Without our intervention in 2000, the Cleveland Clinic would have had a monopoly in northeast Cuyahoga County.

Madigan asks: where has Kucinich been? Although redistricted out of Congress after the 2010 census when Ohio lost 2 Congressional seats, he doesn’t need elective office to be an active citizen.  The rights to free speech, press and assembly as well as the right to petition our government for a redress of grievance belong to everyone.

Sincerely,
Marty Gelfand

View a PDF of Mr. Gelfand’s original letter

Why Lakewood Hospital is not St. Michael’s

Alongside the questions asked of Dennis Kucinich by journalists, at his press conference on Monday, a handful of attendees demanded “what about St. Michael’s?” Fifteen years ago, St. Michael’s Hospital in Slavic Village also faced closure, before a community effort aided by then-Congressman Kucinich intervened. The “Miracle on Broadway” resulted in a sale to University Hospitals, which spent several million dollars renovating St. Michael’s.

Yet, three years later, in December 2003 St. Michael’s closed its doors for good.

It is often remarked that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” and St. Michael’s does offer some lessons with relevance for Lakewood. These do not, however, include “give up, don’t fight for the hospital, it will only delay the inevitable.”

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Kucinich hosts press conference, forum

Former congressman Dennis Kucinich addressed several representatives of local media Monday morning, in a press conference in front of Lakewood Hospital.

Distributing copies of the “decanting” plan and additional documents recently revealed in court, Kucinich asserted that Cleveland Clinic intentionally misled the city of Lakewood with promises of a new hospital. Urging Lakewood’s people and leadership to consider the new information becoming available, he called on the city to file a brief in support of the lawsuit for damages to Lakewood Hospital.

Kucinich also hosted a community forum in the evening, at the Lakewood main library. One attendee has posted photos here, and cleveland.com has a brief story about the forum here.

The documents Kucinich presented are available online at the end of this cleveland.com article.

WKYC and Fox8 have posted stories about the press conference; the Lakewood Observer has a draft transcript of Kucinich’s remarks, and photos.

Feature story in this week’s Scene

The new issue of Scene carries an extensive feature on “The Struggle to Save (or Close) Lakewood Hospital…” by Eric Sandy. This is a great opportunity to help friends and neighbors who aren’t closely following every event and update in this drawn-out fight; pick up a copy and pass it on.

The general story touted by the city is that “changes in health care” and “declining patient volumes” had forced the mayor’s hand. But as the opposition described to Scene, the Cleveland Clinic can pretty much dictate who goes where — i.e., which and how many Northeast Ohio patients take their health care business to which Clinic outpost. With services like pediatrics and trauma care being shipped elsewhere in the Clinic network from Lakewood Hospital, patient volumes began decreasing ipso facto. What patients were left were more often enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare, kicking Clinic profits down another notch.

Very quickly, residents chipped away at claims that “changes in health care” were driving the losses. Puzzle pieces began locking into place. The data points that were being used to justify the hospital’s closure were direct consequences of the Clinic’s evolving policies over the past 10 years.

The complete story is also online.

Match Challenge

The next eight weeks are critical in our efforts to Save Lakewood Hospital.

In honor of Labor Day and all the hard work of SLH volunteers everywhere, an anonymous supporter is issuing a challenge to other SLH supporters this week.

For every dollar contributed to SLH through Thursday, September 17, this supporter will match that contribution up to $1000.

Contribute to SLH this week and your $20 becomes $40!  Your $50 becomes $100!  Your $100 becomes $200!

C’mon everyone, let’s have some fun way and raise some needed funds for SLH.  Show your support for SLH this week by making a generous contribution and doubling your money!

You can donate through the website or send a check made out to:

SAVE LAKEWOOD HOSPITAL
c/o Bill Call
14713 Lake Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107

Wallet feeling a little light?  It’s free to talk to your friends and neighbors!

Pinching pennies this month?  Call Mayor Summers (529-6600 or mayor@lakewoodoh.net) or Council President Madigan (228-9578 or mlmadigan9@hotmail.com) and tell them to keeps their paws off Lakewood Hospital!

All tapped out right now?  You can still come to a city council meeting and show your support!

Warnings in the Huron consulting report

Huron Consulting, retained by the city of Lakewood in June to study the Cleveland Clinic letter of intent and related issues, submitted its final report in August. Some important points to hang onto, as the debate over Lakewood Hospital proceeds to its next phase:

The 89-page presentation is, judged as a whole, painstakingly noncommittal. Its authors emphasize that they do not provide investment or legal advice (pp. 4, 52), and explicitly caution that they considered neither “the impact on employment in the City” nor Lakewood’s share of responsibility for maintaining acute care services in the community. Reasons for Lakewood Hospitals’s decline in patient volume receive a cursory examination, as well.

Given this context, however, readers should be all the more concerned by problems that Huron identifies with the management of Lakewood Hospital and proposals for its future.

Huron’s review of the search for alternative hospital partners is particularly troubling. From page 43: “It is our understanding that a release from Cleveland Clinic regarding potential tortious interference claims was not obtained upon the initial marketing of the Hospital. We would generally not conduct a sales process in such a circumstance without first obtaining a release (or permission) from the company managing or operating the hospital. [Emphasis added] It is not known if the lack of such a release impacted interest among potential buyers.”

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Highest and Best Use

The coming days may be particularly important to demonstrate, to city council, support for keeping Lakewood Hospital open. Messages to members David Anderson (ward 1), Sam O’Leary (ward 2) and Cindy Marx (at large) are especially encouraged.

Save Lakewood Hospital president Marguerite Harkness has recently offered these comments to city council:

Hello Councilpersons,

The highest and best use of the hospital site is a fully-functioning inpatient hospital, with expanded outpatient facilities and services. (This includes the professional building, the south garage, and the auxiliary health building.)

Please keep in mind:

  • Lakewood’s population is declining moderately; we don’t need more housing.
  • Lakewood has loads of empty storefronts; we don’t need more retail space.
  • Lakewood restaurants are coming . . . and GOING; we don’t need more bars and restaurants.
  • Lakewood Center North is half empty; we don’t need more office space.

Fairview Hospital is JAMMED with Lakewood residents being sent there for medical services; what we NEED in Lakewood is a fully-functioning inpatient hospital.

And if we lose the 1100 jobs (over 1600 W-2’s which means actual people), we REALLY won’t need more housing, more retail space, more bars, or more office space.

Please know that physicians are eyeing our situation, and our efforts to preserve and create a fully-functioning hospital with independent physicians who can practice medicine and take care of their patients, HERE, in Lakewood.

They KNOW we will succeed, and they are actually making bold financial decisions that will be part of the solution that saves and expands our hospital.

There are over 1,000 independent physicians from Brooklyn to Rocky River, in about a dozen practices.  There is no shortage of medical staff to work here.

Thank you,

The Charter of the City of Lakewood OH

CHARTER OF THE CITY OF LAKEWOOD
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Second Amended Charter was adopted on November 7, 2000.  Dates appearing in parentheses following a section heading indicate those provisions were subsequently adopted, amended or repealed on the date given.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
   ARTICLE I.  POWERS
      §1.    Powers.
      §2.   Manner of Exercise.  (11-8-11)
      §3.   Interpretation.  (11-8-11)
   ARTICLE II.  THE EXECUTIVE
      §1.   Executive and Administrative Powers.
      §2.   Residency, Term and Qualifications of Mayor.
      §3.   Mayor Ex-Officio Director.
      §4.   Mayor’s Appointment Power.  (11-5-02)
      §5.   Salary of the Mayor. (11-8-05)
      §6.   General Powers and Duties of Mayor.
      §7.   Mayor’s Investigation.  (11-8-11)
      §8.   Acting and Interim Mayor.  (11-8-11)
      §9.   Location of Office; Full-Time Position.
      §10.   Right of Mayor and Directors in Council.
   ARTICLE III.  THE COUNCIL
      §1.   Membership, Election and Term.
      §2.   Qualifications and Vacancies.  (11-8-11)
      §3.   Salaries. (11-8-05)
      §4.   Meetings.
      §5.   Organization and Open Meetings.  (11-8-11)
      §6.   President of Council.
      §7.   Clerk, Vice President and Other Officers of Council.
      §8.   Enactment of Ordinances and Resolutions.
      §9.   Voter Approval of Ordinances and Resolutions. (11-8-05)
      §10.   Mayor’s Approval or Disapproval of Legislation.
      §11.   Recording of Legislation; Codified Ordinances.
      §12.   Publication.  (11-8-11)
      §13.   Effective Date of Legislation.
      §14.   Estimate of Expense; Appropriation Ordinances.
      §15.   Appropriations of Balance or Accruing Revenue Not Already Appropriated.
      §16.   Drawing Money from the Treasury; Unexpended Balances Revert.
      §17.   Bonds Required.
   ARTICLE IV.  DEPARTMENTS
      §1.   Departments Established.
      §2.   Directors of Departments.
   ARTICLE V.  DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
      §1.   Duties of Director.
      §2.   Public Improvements.
   ARTICLE VI.  DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
§1.   Divisions Established.
      §2.   Duties of Director.
      §3.   Organization.
      §4.   Assignment of Duties.
      §5.   Suspension from Duties.
      §6.   Suspension of Chiefs.
      §7.   Appeal from Suspension.
   ARTICLE VII.  DEPARTMENT OF LAW
      §1.   Qualifications and Duties of Director.
      §2.   Duties Imposed by General Law.  (11-8-11)
   ARTICLE VIII.  THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
§1.   Duties.
      §2.   Accounting Procedure.
      §3.   Reports.
      §4.   Certification.
      §5.   Funds Subject to Certification.
      §6.   Failure to Comply.
   ARTICLE IX.  DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
      §1.   Duties of Director.
   ARTICLE X.  DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
      §1.   Duties of Director.
   ARTICLE XI.  CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
      §1.   Appointment and Term of Members.
      §2.   President; Secretary.
      §3.   Classified and Unclassified Service.
      §4.   Procedure.
      §5.   Salaries.
      §6.   Suspension of Commission Member.
      §7.   Advisory Salary Recommendations. (11-8-05)
   ARTICLE XII.  PLANNING COMMISSION
      §1.   Organization.
      §2.   Administrative Staff.
      §3.   Powers and Duties.
      §4.   Mandatory Referral.
   ARTICLE XIII.  BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
      §1.   Organization.
      §2.   Powers and Duties.
   ARTICLE XIV.  BOARD OF BUILDING STANDARDS AND BUILDING APPEALS
      §1.   Organization.  (11-5-02)
      §2.   Powers and Duties.
   ARTICLE XV.  LAKEWOOD HOSPITAL
§1.   Establishment; Board of Trustees.
      §2.   Term of Board Members.
      §3.   Duties and Powers of the Board.
      §4.   Lease Alternative.
   ARTICLE XVI.  IMPROVEMENTS AND ASSESSMENTS
      §1.   Local Improvements.
      §2.   Methods of Special Assessment.
      §3.   Preliminary Assessments.
      §4.   Notices Served.
      §5.   Plans and Proposed Improvements.
      §6.   Board of Revision of Assessments.
      §7.   Claims.
      §8.   Final Assessment.
      §9.   Damages Assessed.  (11-8-11)
      §10.   Work to be Done.
      §11.   Lands Unallotted or Not on Duplicate.
      §12.   Interest on Assessment Bonds.
      §13.   Limitation on Assessments.
      §14.   City’s Portion of Cost.
      §15.   Replacing Existing Improvements.
      §16.   Subsequent Improvements.
      §17.   Supplementary Assessments and Rebates.
      §18.   Sewer and Water Connections.
      §19.   Sidewalks.
      §20.   Further Proceedings Unnecessary.
      §21.   Assessment Bonds.
      §22.   Alterations or Modifications in Contract.
      §23.   Plat of Subdivision.
      §24.   Fee Shall Vest in City.
      §25.   Streets and Public Grounds.
      §26.   Alteration of Streets.
      §27.   Dedication of Streets.
      §28.   Vacation or Change of Name.
      §29.   Taxation Without Vote.
      §30.   Levy for Police and Firemen’s Disability and Pension Fund.
      §31.   Levy for Reconstruction, Expansion, Operation and Maintenance of a Sewer Disposal Plant.  (11-8-11)
   ARTICLE XVII.  APPROPRIATION OF PROPERTY
      §1.   Appropriation.
      §2.   Declaratory Resolution.
      §3.   Notice.  (11-8-11)
      §4.   Further Proceedings.
   ARTICLE XVIII.  FRANCHISES
      §1.   Grant.
      §2.   Renewals.
      §3.   Extension.
      §4.   Consents.
      §5.   Regulations.
   ARTICLE XIX.  ELECTIONS
      §1.   Regular and Special Municipal Elections.  (11-5-02)
      §2.   Primary Elections.  (11-4-08)
      §3.   Election Procedures.  (11-5-02)
      §4.   Certificate of Nomination When No Primary is Held.  (11-5-02)
      §5.   Designation of Candidates.  (11-5-02)
      §6.   Declarations of Candidacy.  (11-6-12)
      §7.   Ballot Form.  (11-5-02)
      §8.   Nomination and Election of Judges.  (11-5-02)
   ARTICLE XX.  INITIATIVE.
      §1.   Right to Initiative.
      §2.   Form of Petition.
      §3.   Signatures to Petition.
      §4.   Filing of Petition.
      §5.   Additional Signatures.
      §6.   Hearing by Council Committee.
      §7.   Action by Council.
      §8.   Power of Council.
      §9.   Certification; Supplemental Petition.
      §10.   Submission to Electors.
      §11.   Ballot Form.
      §12.   Repealing Ordinances.
      §13.   Publication, Amendment or Repeal.
   ARTICLE XXI.  REFERENDUM
      §1.   Right to Referendum.
      §2.   Form of Petition.
      §3.   Signatures to Petition.
      §4.   Filing of Petition.
      §5.   Additional Signatures.
      §6.   Procedure.
      §7.   Ballot Form.
      §8.   Majority Vote.
      §9.   Enactments Not Subject to Referendum.
      §10.   Initiated Ordinance Subject to Referendum.
      §11.   Referendum of Measures Taking Early Effect.
      §12.   Acts Preliminary to Election.
   ARTICLE XXII.  RECALL
      §1.   Recall Procedure.
      §2.   Petitions.
      §3.   Signatures.
      §4.   Filing and Certification.
      §5.   Supplemental Petitions.
      §6.   Recall Election.
      §7.   Ballots.
      §8.   Succeeding Officer.
      §9.   State Law Governs Where No Charter Provision.
   ARTICLE XXIII.  GENERAL PROVISIONS
      §1.   Continuance of Present Officers.
      §2.   Oath of Office.
      §3.   Activity of Officials and Employees Restricted.  (5-8-07)
      §4.   Continuance of Contracts.
      §5.   Continuance of Other Enactments.
      §6.   Amendments.
      §7.   Severability.
      §8.   Charter Review Commission.
      §9.   Exceptions for Bonds, Notes and Other Debt Instruments.
THE SECOND AMENDED CHARTER

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Huron Consulting report, other news

Huron Consulting, commissioned by the city to study Lakewood Hospital, has completed its final report. Certain of its observations have generated much discussion, among them:

Huron’s John Bodine spoke to city council about the findings on Monday. As reported at cleveland.com, Dr. George Khuri, a physician at Lakewood Hospital and a board member of Premier Physicians stated that the group of independent physicians is “more committed than ever to Lakewood Hospital and the city of Lakewood.” Look for more analysis and responses to the Huron report in the days ahead.

In the meantime…Read More

Please attend August 19 “vision workshop”

This one’s simple: if you support keeping Lakewood’s hospital, please attend the “vision workshops” scheduled to begin Wednesday, August 19, and say so.

In a curious move, the city of Lakewood has announced a meeting to consider “design uses for the land currently occupied by Lakewood Hospital.” The first meeting is scheduled 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the community room at University of Akron’s Lakewood branch, 14725 Detroit Ave.

The premise of this, and proposed subsequent meetings, seems to overlook one or two realities:

  • The city has yet to make (or demonstrate that support exists to make) a decision that would remove Lakewood Hospital from the site in question.
  • Meanwhile, excitement over alternate uses for “very valuable land that is in high demand” ignores the sizable amount of commercial space in Lakewood sitting unoccupied already. If “high demand” was indeed a sure bet to replace the economic activity that Lakewood Hospital generates, why are there lots languishing, condemned or completely empty, on Madison and Detroit?

It’s worth emphasizing that at present, the only real plan for Lakewood Hospital is keeping Lakewood Hospital. The city of Lakewood has an agreement obliging Cleveland Clinic to maintain hospital services at the property for another decade (and “we don’t feel like it any more” does not invalidate that obligation). Proponents of writing off the hospital have some imaginary design concepts, and a claim of “high demand” that evidence around us does not support.

Lakewood’s mayor asserts that “we want to know what our citizens envision on that land.” Let’s help him out.

“Decanting” Lakewood Hospital

On June 21, 2012, three years before the plan to close and raze Lakewood Hospital was revealed to the public and beneficiaries of the charitable trust, Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) representatives met to discuss the decanting plan of Lakewood Hospital. (Ex. 2).

Under the decanting plan,

  • 30-45 beds from Lakewood Hospital’s nursing unit will be moved to Fairview Hospital;
  • 16 intensive care unit beds at Lakewood Hospital will be moved to Fairview Hospital;
  • Fairview Hospital will absorb 700-800 births per year from Lakewood Hospital;
  • 7,000-8,000 Lakewood Hospital inpatient emergency department visits will be moved to Fairview Hospital;
  • 1,315-1,773 inpatient surgeries per year will be moved from Lakewood Hospital to Fairview Hospital;
  • Lakewood Hospital physicians will be moved to Fairview Hospital and other CCF wholly-owned hospitals;
  • 12 geropsych beds will be moved from Lakewood Hospital to Lutheran Hospital;
  • Lakewood Hospital’s vascular laboratory will be moved to Fairview Hospital;
  • some Lakewood Hospital inpatient beds will be moved to Fairview Hospital;
  • and inpatient surgery and the catheterization laboratory at Lakewood Hospital will be moved to Fairview Hospital. (Ex. 1).

All of these services, employees, and equipment that have been moved and will continue to be moved away from Lakewood Hospital are City assets. More importantly, those assets belong to a charitable trust for the charitable purpose of providing high quality health care to the third party beneficiaries of the trust: City taxpayers and residents, Lakewood Hospital employees, and the general public.

The need for these medical services, including inpatient surgery, is demonstrated by CCF’s Master Plan for Fairview Hospital showing Lakewood Hospital’s 1,773 surgery cases being transferred (i.e. decanted) to CCF’s wholly-owned Fairview Hospital.

Read more here: 2015.07.31.01.Reply in Support of PI w Exhibits-2

A right to vote on our hospital’s future

Lakewood Hospital belongs to the people of Lakewood, and we deserve real participation in any decision about its future. The Right to Vote campaign is currently collecting signatures to place a charter amendment on this fall’s ballot, to require a vote of the people if the city wants to close Lakewood Hospital.

Save Lakewood Hospital has been working to help collect signatures; the easiest way to help out is to sign a petition. Saturday, August 1 and August 8 you can sign the petition from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 11910 Detroit Ave (Skindell for Mayor campaign office). Help us tell the city council and Lakewood Hospital Association that this needs to be our vote, not just theirs!

You can also help keep the momentum building for Save Lakewood Hospital on Tuesday, August 4, by stopping in Jammy Buggars any time from 11 a.m. to midnight. Order anything, and Jammy Buggars will donate 15% of your bill; just mention “Save Lakewood Hospital” and they will do the rest! You’ve got to eat, anyway, right?

Rally for Medicare, and Lakewood Hospital

Thanks to all who helped celebrate Medicare’s 50th birthday on Thursday. (Special thanks to all our friends from the UAW!)

Approximately 200 joined other rallies nationwide to call for sustaining and expanding equitable access to health care. After festivities at Lakewood Park, everyone marched down the street to Lakewood Hospital. Cleveland.com has a write-up; some of our favorite photos follow:

Save Lakewood Hospital member Mike Deneen's four-legged friend was into the spirit of things early
Save Lakewood Hospital member Mike Deneen’s four-legged friend was into the spirit of things early
SLH Chair Marguerite Harkness, arriving in style
SLH Chair Marguerite Harkness, arriving in style
Michelle Mahon of National Nurses United, a tireless friend
Michelle Mahon of National Nurses United, a tireless friend and advocate
Lots of support for Lakewood Hospital, and Medicare, from all generations
Lots of support for Lakewood Hospital, and Medicare, from across generations

What’s the alternative?

Proponents of razing Lakewood Hospital and approving the Cleveland Clinic letter of intent would have us believe that there is no other option on the table. “Where’s their alternative,” they ask—though only rhetorically, because if they were actually to ask Save Lakewood Hospital they would receive an answer:

There is a viable alternative. Insist on the Clinic living up to its responsibilities.

The Cleveland Clinic signed a lease to run Lakewood Hospital, and provide specific services, through 2026. It’s now 2015; much can happen in a decade. Therefore, even setting aside serious doubts about the sincerity with which the mayor and hospital association actually tried to secure a new partner, there is no reason to assume that “there’s no alternative to the Clinic” is a final, unalterable fact.

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Medicare Turns 50!

July 30th Celebration of Medicare ‘s 50th Birthday and March to Save Lakewood Hospital

On July 30th communities from over 45 cities across the US will gather to celebrate one of the most successful social programs in US history- Medicare.

Protecting and celebrating  Medicare and protecting our hospital go hand in hand.  Join thousands of people across the US as well as right here at home to ensure that everyone who needs high quality care has it where and when they need it most.

11-1 Press conference, Lunch, games, music & more

12-1 Speakers

1-2 March from Lakewood Park to Lakewood Hospital ( 1mile round trip)

0515_M50_NatlDayAction_Lakewood

An unforgettable July 4 parade

Under a bright July sky on Saturday, Save Lakewood Hospital marched in review before the Lakewood community—and met with a rousing, moving show of enthusiasm from one end of the July 4 parade to the other. The Lakewood Observer reports that Save Lakewood Hospital was the largest community group marching on Saturday. The response from parade-watchers included many thumbs-up and considerable applause.

The Observer has two photo galleries from the parade, here and here; cleveland.com has a selection of photos as well.

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What’s going on this summer

There is no summer vacation from the work to save Lakewood Hospital. Here’s a little of what’s going on as July gets rolling:

  • City Council President Mary Louise Madigan has decided against seeking re-election. With Eric Deamer also exiting the race, it looks almost inevitable that Ward Four will be represented by Dan O’Malley, who told NEOMG’s correspondent that “he strongly believes some sort of hospital with inpatient beds should remain in the city.”
  • The lawsuit filed by Chris DeVito and other supporters of Save Lakewood Hospital is making its way to trial in a relatively brisk fashion. At this stage, little formal media coverage is likely, but judging by recent documentary investigation posted at the Lakewood Observer forum, shining a light on the full history of the Letter Of Intent may reveal quite a lot.
  • Lakewood’s weather forecast for July 4, 2015 looks gorgeous. Please join us for the parade; participants will gather from 9 a.m. and the parade begins at 10.

Why saving Lakewood Hospital matters

WHY DO WE NEED A HOSPITAL IN LAKEWOOD?

We the residents of Lakewood, own the hospital and the equipment.  Cleveland Clinic does not own it.  The mayor does not own it.  City Council does not own it.  We own it.  It was originally established to take care of Lakewood residents and keep us well.

91 MINUTES IS TOO LONG!
Our cardiologists tell us you have only 90 minutes from arrival at hospital, to getting the balloon in the artery (to save the patient’s life).  It takes more than 90 minutes if you are at Lakewood Hospital and Cleveland Clinic insists on transporting you to Fairview Hospital.  You might not make it.  Cleveland Clinic is ignoring the time of transport and pretending they can meet this time window.

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Skindell runs for mayor, other news

State Senator Michael Skindell announced this week that he is running for Mayor of Lakewood, and making the preservation of Lakewood Hospital central to his campaign. Skindell will challenge incumbent mayor Michael Summers, who has advocated a Cleveland Clinic proposal to replace the hospital with a much smaller health center.

Criticizing Summers’s approach as secretive and exclusionary, Skindell said that “Public office is a public trust. The present Mayor has repeatedly violated that trust by attempting to close Lakewood Hospital, which is viable and which I pledge to keep open. …I am pleased to join with our citizens who are fighting for Lakewood by fighting against the closure of Lakewood Hospital.”

Meanwhile, City Council has selected Huron Consulting Services to review the assertions for and against the Cleveland Clinic proposal. City law director Kevin Butler announced the choice earlier this week at a city council meeting, which also heard arguments from Tom Monahan and other voices from Save Lakewood Hospital.

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