Exclusionary governance leaves Lakewood divided

For Immediate Release —

We are grateful to the substantial number of Lakewood citizens who voted to repeal the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital. The campaign represented tens of thousands of hours of hard work by citizens who were not paid for their time, but rather were motivated by the desire to see that Lakewood remains a strong, viable community that has the kind of healthcare it truly deserves.

Although the campaign was not successful, the substantial vote against the ordinance demonstrates that officials failed to obtain broad consensus and public confidence, in their decision to close Lakewood Hospital and transfer the assets to a private entity without competitive bidding. The ordinance to close Lakewood Hospital was crafted through closed-door meetings by Lakewood City Council, Lakewood Hospital Association and Lakewood Hospital Foundation. By making decisions behind closed doors, City Council lost sight of what was in the best interests of the citizens of Lakewood. The lack of transparency resulted in a divided community.

Our campaign, unlike opponents’, has never promised that any outcome of Issue 64 would solve all of Lakewood’s healthcare challenges at once. We hoped to defeat a specific measure that actively limits our options for addressing those challenges, and while we did not do so on Tuesday, challenges of access, quality, equity and accountability persist. The duty to find solutions to these challenges must persist as well.

As we move onward following this vote, we look to our public servants to support an open and transparent process to ensure that everyone in our community has access to affordable healthcare. We are committed to uniting our community behind this effort.

For questions and comments, our contact information is below.

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital

Nov. 8, 2016: Vote AGAINST Issue 64

Tuesday, November 8 is decision-day for Lakewood. Please vote against Issue 64!

Key points to remember:

Issue 64 is a vote on the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital. If you disapprove of the deal that closed our publicly owned hospital, vote against 64.

We deserve a better deal. The people of Lakewood owned 100% of our hospital and its assets, and the hospital employed almost 1,100 people. Ending up with a health center that someone else owns, and which will employ fewer than 200, is obviously not investment or progress.

Issue 64 includes no plan to replace lost jobs and tax revenues, or to redevelop the hospital property. In fact a noncompete clause will block other hospital systems from ever introducing competing services on that property.

Issue 64 means bare-bones healthcare in Lakewood, and needed emergency care left in question. Most serious emergencies require hospital facilities to treat; health centers and ambulance rides are not substitutes. That’s why Ohio Nurses opposes Issue 64. That’s why Avon is opening a new hospital, not an urgent-care office.

Lakewood can do better. Issue 64 doesn’t guarantee anything to Lakewood, even basic 24/7 ER services. All it guarantees is the noncompete clause that keeps our options limited. The Cleveland Clinic negotiated this because the market for hospital services is competitive. By rejecting the noncompete clause we can benefit from competition and gain services, jobs and better pricing—we can hold an open bidding process for hospital assets, which officials have not done.

Example of Issue 64 on Nov. 2016 ballot
Please vote “Against the Ordinance” on Issue 64

Open letter: Let Lakewood Hospital Thrive

A Lakewood resident writes about her hopes for the city and the importance of voting against Issue 64:

Lakewood should resolve our hospital issue for the highest good for the most people, be more imaginative about growing our city and do what it takes to find a better partner than Cleveland Clinic for our city’s community hospital.

Lakewood needs our full-service hospital for healthcare for our citizens and jobs in our community.  We won’t be laughing if our city is bankrupt with no substantial economic engine and no security for our citizens. We can still come out with good healthcare for our citizens if we stop this trajectory of giving everything away to Cleveland Clinic. Voting AGAINST 64 can stop the poor agreement City Council and Mayor Summers made with Cleveland Clinic. If stopped, we can begin a genuine Request for Proposals for a small inpatient hospital in our city-owned facility.

Razing the hospital then handing land to the city planning department and developers is irresponsible. It would be better if developers in Lakewood are experts at renovation and repurposing. We have many beautiful, vacant buildings. Lakewood is the wrong city for continuous tearing-down, and building new cinder block buildings. Lakewood Hospital is in very good condition. Go take a tour yourself and see. Lakewood Hospital was a great anchor, strengthening the city and offering real care to the citizens. Lakewood must court businesses to use our existing storefront stock.Cleveland Clinic and City Hall are being deceptive, then covering it up with PR campaigns and excuses. It is bad for a business to be expert at milking every dollar out of patients and insurance companies, with departments that work at finding the loopholes in every situation. It seems wiser to put energy into doing great work.

We should all treat each other with respect and kindness. At the most basic levels, we are all the same. Every business, in order to thrive, must value others. If CCF can’t honestly, respectfully work with Lakewood, then leave Lakewood be. We will be a cooperative ally, seeking the best for all patients.  We can find the right partner that will run a small hospital in our city with integrity. CCF won’t be hurt by honoring the right of our city and our people to have our full-service hospital here. CCF is big enough. Maybe it is habitual to strive to grow big, bigger, biggest and make the most money, but it takes more strength and dedication to master and hone your skills at serving your patients well and fairly.

By now, most people see through the paid US News and World Report (and other venues) ratings. CCF does great work, why don’t they continue to nurture that and back off of the empire building? If CCF quietly does their great work, a great reputation will precede them as it had in the past. The relentless growth and trampling on communities are destroying a reputation which had already been built by their past quality. For hospitals to follow the corporate model is soulless and not sustainable. Doing a job very well and fairly, while treating customers and employees with respect, kindness and honesty is more priceless than power and money.

Melissa Nautiyal

Broken Promise of “Quality Healthcare” Exposed in Poignant Interview

For Immediate Release —

As Lakewood citizens stand poised to reject the ordinance that closed their community owned hospital, stories of sub-standard care at Lakewood’s “freestanding emergency department,” costly transfers from the “ED” to other hospitals, and overcrowding at Fairview Hospital, are mounting.

The promises of “Quality Health Care” by city officials in the wake of the hospital’s closing are clearly questionable, in the minds of many Lakewood voters.

Dan and Trish Defabbo of Lakewood know firsthand that this promise of “Quality Healthcare” is nothing more than another campaign slogan pitched by politicians.

In this video, the Defabbos chronicle what happened when Mr. Defabbo had a dangerously high fever and needed emergency care. At 70 years old, Mr, Defabbo had survived triple bypass surgery earlier in his life. As he was shuffled from Lakewood to Fairview in his latest health emergency, he and his wife wondered if he would survive the added stress that Lakewood’s now broken healthcare reality had brought them.

A majority vote against Issue 64 in Tuesday’s election will reject the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital, and restore Lakewood’s rights to over $100 million in cash and hospital assets. Many in Lakewood are coming to the realization that their “emergency department” is little more than an urgent care center at a much higher price.

For interviews with the Defabbos as well as other questions and comments, our contact information is below.

For a related story about a stroke victim’s delayed treatment that may have seriously comprised recovery, follow this link.

Download this story as a Microsoft Word file.

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital

Who is against Issue 64

Who opposes Issue 64?

Independent doctors. Professionals in law and finance.

Ohio Nurses.

Lakewood’s state senator. Respected emeritus city council members, including a former council president.

Progressive reform groups. Labor leaders. Volunteers.

Parents. Students. Retirees. Taxpayers. Homeowners.

The Lakewood Observer‘s publisher.

Thousands of Lakewoodites who have petitioned for repealing the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital.

Business owners. Entrepreneurs.

Authors. Designers. Real-estate professionals.

Basically, people—and more specifically, people who care about keeping Lakewood a strong community.

Please join us and vote against Issue 64.

We Deserve a Better Deal
Stand with us, for our city and our future.

Stroke Victim’s Travails Expose Broken Promises of Quality Health Care

For Immediate Release —

When Marjorie Harris suffered a stroke early one morning at her home in Lakewood, what followed laid bare serious flaws in promises made to Lakewood residents. These promises were meant to convince residents that even though Lakewood Hospital is closed, this community would receive the same world class care as before.

One of these promises was made when City Council President Sam O’Leary said a mobile stroke unit operated by the Cleveland Clinic would provide “21st century life-saving care at your doorstep.” But the mobile unit never showed at Ms. Harris’s doorstep.  The unit covers 10 cities and was no doubt too distant and too occupied to be of assistance.

With no mobile stroke unit available, Ms. Harris was taken to Fairview Hospital in an EMS vehicle.  According to its website, Fairview has a special certification as a “Primary Stroke Center.” It promises a medical team that will deliver “comprehensive care diagnosing and treating patients quickly and significantly improving health and recovery.”

But when Ms. Harris arrived at Fairview, there was no neurosurgeon on hand to perform the critical procedure needed to ensure full recovery and, potentially, simply to save her life.  The only option was to life-flight her to the Clinic’s main campus on Cleveland’s east side.  As she was being life-flighted, her husband faced an hour-long drive in rush hour traffic from Fairview to the Main Campus.  Upon his arrival, Mr. Harris found that surgeons were still waiting for his signature to begin the need operation.  According to Mr. Harris, his wife’s stroke symptoms started at 6:30 AM.  He estimates that she went into surgery at 10:30 AM.

Read More

Reality check: Our hospital

The people of Lakewood owned Lakewood Hospital, along with all of its property, tangible assets, licenses, cash and investments.

Founded in 1907, Lakewood Hospital became a municipal institution in 1930. Decades later, the city assigned oversight of the hospital to Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA), which leased the hospital to the Cleveland Clinic. The hospital eventually acquired signs declaring it “a Cleveland Clinic Hospital.” But the 1996 agreement made it clear that the hospital and its assets were leased from the city, and would still belong to the city at the end of that lease.

The full lease agreement is a dense document, but a press release from the City of Lakewood spelled out what the new lease would do, plainly and simply:

  • “Protects the City of Lakewood’s ownership of current property and any future acquisitions by LHA.”
  • “Guarantees that all assets (property and cash) revert to the City of Lakewood at the end of the lease term.”

A deal that ends this lease early and returns anything less than 100% of all hospital assets to Lakewood is a terrible deal. The deal that closed Lakewood Hospital gives away all but a fraction of the hospital’s assets.

That deal is on this fall’s ballot as Issue 64, with two choices. For, or against.

Our public hospital’s assets and property belonged to us, and to the future generations who will follow us. Giving it away betrays the Lakewood of today and tomorrow. We owe it to our future to vote against Issue 64.

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Get informed about Issue 64 with the Lakewood Observer

This week’s issue of the Lakewood Observer offers a thorough voters’ guide to the important arguments over Issue 64. Along with expert analysis, the Observer presents multiple voices for and against the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital.

The line-up against Issue 64 is diverse and compelling:

A team including Dr. Terry Kilroy, attorney Brian Essi, Betsy Voinovich and Dan Alaimo survey the main claims around 64 and what the possible outcomes will mean.

Yvonka Marie Hall, of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, draws on her experience of other hospital closures to set out the realities of reduced healthcare as offered by Issue 64.

Businessman and lifelong Lakewoodite Charles Milsaps reflects on being concerned for parents as they grow older—and on the security which only a community hospital can provide.

Longtime Lakewood resident Barbara Coleman encourages our community that we can do something about an irresponsible deal: vote against Issue 64.

Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich writes to the constituents whose interests he championed for many years, to offer support for the local citizens who continue that struggle. “I urge you to do so, to stand up for Lakewood, stand up for community” and reject Issue 64, he writes.

One of the Lakewood citizens who has maintained the struggle for a better option than Issue 64, Meg Ostrowski, sums up the experience for many:

I am proud to have been on the side fighting for a better plan for Lakewood than 64 provides. One that addresses the risk to lives due to delayed medical treatment; the inconvenience and hardship experienced by vulnerable residents; the loss of healthcare services and accompanying jobs; the loss of tax revenue; the loss of economic activity; and the loss of public assets. One that holds parties accountable; encourages market competition; demands fair compensation; and comes about via an open and transparent process.

Keep Lakewood strong. Say no thanks, we deserve a better deal, by voting AGAINST 64.

Clinic May Owe Lakewood $278 Million if Majority Votes Against Issue 64

For Immediate Release —

The revelations of a front page article in the Lakewood Observer have residents of Lakewood talking about what could be a brighter future for the city if a majority in Lakewood votes against Issue 64.

A vote against Issue 64 would reject the Cleveland Clinic’s escape from its lease on Lakewood Hospital. The Clinic owed Lakewood 278 million dollars under that lease, according to Cleveland Clinic documents uncovered in a taxpayers’ lawsuit against the Clinic and city officials.

In contrast, city officials terminated that lease in favor of a deal that gave the Clinic more than 100 million dollars of hospital assets for a mere 9.6 million dollars. The deal replaced Lakewood’s full service hospital with a “satellite” emergency department that is in reality little more than an urgent care center, unable to handle real emergencies like heart attacks, strokes, severe burns and head injuries. To make things worse, satellite emergency rooms like the one planned for Lakewood mean skyrocketing costs to consumers.

City officials are asking voters to approve the new agreement by voting for Issue 64.

But suspicions among Lakewood voters are reaching critical mass since this bombshell development just a few weeks ahead of the November election. Many feel that special interests have taken priority at city hall. Feedback from door to door canvasing and phone banking has demonstrated that voters are set to express their displeasure with city officials by voting against Issue 64, and overturning the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital.

Reference: citations for these latest revelations, including documents from the State Auditor and court proceedings.

Read More

Reality check: 64 means limited healthcare

In this fall’s vote on Issue 64, Lakewood will judge the legislation that closed our public hospital. But how many services actually shut down along with the hospital? How much is really gone if it remains closed and disused?

Almost everything.

Here’s the Cleveland Clinic’s web page for Lakewood, today. It lists more than a dozen services.

Here’s the archived web page of Lakewood Hospital in late 2015. It includes  those services plus at least 15 more major specialties. Lakewood Hospital provided all of the following services, all gone under the Issue 64 deal:

It’s worth noting that the services at Lakewood Hospital were so extensive that nine separate offerings were combined under just two headings: Neurological, and Rehabilitative Services. By contrast, the current list is padded out by making four or five “services” out of tests that could all be grouped together as “radiology.”

Issue 64 isn’t quality care, it’s severely limited care plus a lot of marketing. We deserve a better deal.

Vote against Issue 64.

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Respected former city councilwoman denounces Issue 64

Few people are more qualified to comment on the future of Lakewood Hospital than Nancy Roth, who has served on city council and as executive director of Health Systems Agency of North Central Ohio. While on Lakewood City council, Roth took part in negotiating the 1996 lease of Lakewood Hospital, which Issue 64 tears up.

In a letter to the Sun Post Herald, Roth writes that “it never crossed my mind that it would be purposefully dismantled,” or “that Council would adopt an ordinance including a non-compete clause giving the Clinic power over the use of a city-owned facility.”

Roth advises voters that “What has happened to Lakewood Hospital is wrong… but it’s not over!” Please read the entire letter, and act on her call to vote AGAINST Issue 64.

Deal to Close Lakewood Hospital Shorts Taxpayers by $278 Million

Cleveland Clinic’s documents confirm liability to hospital through 2026

For Immediate Release —

A key argument for breaking the Cleveland Clinic’s lease on Lakewood Hospital and closing the facility has collapsed – courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic.

Tuesday’s Lakewood Observer broke the story of a Cleveland Clinic document acknowledging, unambiguously, a $278 million liability to the city under a lease which Lakewood council members voted to discard as part of the deal that closed the hospital.

Clinic liability $278 million
Cleveland Clinic document obtained in legal discovery process

As the story’s author Brain Essi notes, the Clinic document completely disproves arguments that Lakewood Hospital could not have remained open through the lease’s 10 remaining years. Lakewood city law director Kevin Butler’s contrary opinion was, Essi adds, “the most important reason cited by City Council when they authorized Butler to negotiate” an agreement terminating the lease and closing the hospital.

The Observer story has city officials who helped craft and support the hospital deal scrambling, as painfully obvious shortcomings leave voters wondering what motivations lie behind such a bad deal. In four weeks, Lakewood voters can reject the deal that closed the hospital by voting against issue 64.

Essi’s front-page story about the deal presents multiple reasons for a vote against 64. In addition to the $278 million liability, another document discovered during an ongoing lawsuit predicted that closing the city’s hospital would shift 5,000 patient visits to Clinic-owned hospitals, bringing an extra annual profit of $11.5 million for the Cleveland Clinic System.

In comparison, the Clinic paid only $9.6 million to acquire hospital assets and associated benefits, Essi suggests. Citing the city’s own Combined Annual Financial Review, Essi says that “The CAFR was prepared by the State Auditor’s office so the $9.6 million number is not subject to debate.” The report is particularly inconvenient for supporters of the hospital deal, who have claimed that it brings Lakewood more than $100 million in new investment.

Essi’s background compounds the difficulty in defending the controversial hospital closing. A licensed attorney since 1984, Essi has long experience with complex sales and issues of liability. He is also a director of a medical practice. By his own estimate, Essi has spent more than 2,000 hours on the Lakewood Hospital issue on a volunteer basis. Essi is available for interview.

Public opinion is not in city hall’s favor as more and more Lakewood citizens plan to vote against issue 64.Read More

Fundraiser at Angelo’s Pizza, Oct. 26

Help win the campaign Against Issue 64 by dining with Angelo’s Pizza.

Wednesday, October 26, 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 reject the liquidation 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 October 26.

Citizens speak out against Issue 64

The newest Lakewood Observer delivers further thoughtful, informed criticism of Issue 64.

Some officials apparently find the objections to 64 so troubling, meanwhile, that they have chosen to retreat from them; on Tuesday, the Observer‘s publisher reported that a newspaper which community leaders have praised for a decade has been blocked from entering City Hall. Despite the presence of multiple articles on both sides of the issue, it seems that the proponents of Issue 64 would rather avoid contrary views than engage with them.

For those willing to give the case against Issue 64 a hearing, however, the current Observer is well worth reading. Pick up a free copy at businesses and other sites around Lakewood, and let them know that you appreciate their support for open dialogue. Among the comments in this issue:

The Cleveland Clinic’s records confirm that it owed Lakewood more than $270 million under the terms of its former lease on Lakewood Hospital—flatly contradicting the claim of Issue 64 proponents.

PJ Bennett raises a number of interesting points about the lease which Issue 64 tears up, including a reminder that even the Cleveland Clinic is required to abide by a lease’s terms, even when it doesn’t want to.

“Sorting Out Issue 64” takes a detailed look at the actual agreement up for a public vote this November, and confirms that Issue 64 will allow Lakewood’s ER to shut down at any time.

One Lakewood resident provides a frank account of another recent, desperate effort to keep only one point of view represented in the debate about Issue 64.

A local author addresses fears that Lakewood is stuck with a bad deal, no matter what, by reviewing our history and reminding us that Lakewood’s people can make better options happen, and have done so again and again. As he writes, “This fall we have another chance to continue our Lakewood story… we can vote against a needlessly closed hospital, and against a retreating, declining Lakewood that settles for less.”

Reality check: costs to taxpayers

A vote against Issue 64 won’t cost taxpayers. Why would it?

Lakewood can’t be saddled with debt, because Lakewood Hospital was not in debt. Nor will the city be required to run Lakewood Hospital at a loss. The hospital was never taxpayer-subsidized in more than 100 years, and in fact made consistent profits that benefited the community up until the last year of Cleveland Clinic management.

Voting against Issue 64 won’t land the city with huge legal bills, either. Fighting over Lakewood Hospital in court has actually been the choice of the groups who support 64, again and again.

In this and other ways, the Issue 64 plan is the real drain on Lakewood’s finances and taxpaying public.

  • The deal up for a vote exchanges $120 million in public assets for less than $40 million in return. What’s called “investment” is just leftovers from hospital assets that we already owned.
  • The complete impact of closing Lakewood Hospital will remove nearly $300 million from our local economy, every year.
  • The Issue 64 health center is a boondoggle that keeps running up additional bills, most paid by the Lakewood public.

To keep Lakewood financially strong in the years ahead, we should vote against Issue 64.

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Many voices against Issue 64

Lakewood residents are taking up pens and keyboards to argue against Issue 64. In the past week, parents, financial experts, business owners, progressive activists and regular citizens have dispatched letters to local newspapers urging a vote against the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital.

Local CPA Bill Call examines the claimed benefits of Issue 64 and writes that “The people of Lakewood should reject a very bad deal and vote against Issue 64.”

Tara Peppard, Lakewood resident and CSU Physics Laboratory Operations Manager, writes “Other parties were indeed interested in running [Lakewood Hospital]. Do your due diligence to remove the restrictive covenant that limits healthcare in Lakewood and demand a genuine RFP process for the best possible deal with your vote AGAINST ISSUE 64.”

Tristan Rader, Operations Director of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, writes “What is happening, here in our community, is symptomatic of a larger problem… We are moving away from more accessible healthcare… I am voting AGAINST Issue 64.”

Matt Kuhns, owner of design studio Modern Alchemy LLC, writes “a vibrant city twice the size of Avon has other options for our hospital besides leaving it unused. Issue 64 will only hold Lakewood back.”

Attorney Brian Essi analyzes Issue 64 and concludes that this deal “has caused $107M in taxpayers’ healthcare assets to leave Lakewood, it will cost taxpayers $22M in income taxes over the next 11 years, and… gave away $55M in capital improvements to taxpayers’ assets.”

PJ Bennett points out that recent statements by Lakewood’s fire chief confirm that emergency care in Lakewood—already diminished without a hospital—is not guaranteed under Issue 64.

Publicist and Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young sums up the conclusions of many, writing that “With all of the positive things happening in Lakewood, we shouldn’t be about settling for less. Our city has an obligation to protect lives, an opportunity to restore jobs and a duty to keep Lakewood strong. …Vote AGAINST Issue 64.”

Reality Check: Economic Impact

In 2015, Lakewood CPA Marguerite Harkness presented city council with the only current economic impact study on Lakewood Hospital. In cooperation with other experienced professionals among Save Lakewood Hospital membership, Harkness concluded that our hospital’s total contribution to Lakewood’s economy was nearly $300 million per year.

No one else, whether Lakewood government or hospital trustees or paid consultants, has prepared any alternative study. But is there any independent corroboration of this estimate? And what does it mean, now, with the hospital currently closed and a public vote pending?

In fact, there is another source that supports the results of Harkness’s study—the Cleveland Clinic’s own 2015 Economic Impact Report.

According to an archived news release from the Cleveland Clinic, its total contribution to Ohio’s economy was $12.6 billion in 2013. The same press release notes that the Clinic directly employed more than 48,000 people in Ohio.

Dividing $12.6B by 48,000 results in an economic impact of $260,000 per employee. Lakewood Hospital employed around 1,100 people.

The full economic impact of 1,100 hospital employees, based on the Clinic’s report, is therefore $286,000,000. That’s within a few percent of the Save Lakewood Hospital study.

Meanwhile, both figures are annual figures. Losing the economic contribution of Lakewood Hospital won’t be a one-time problem which the city can simply deal with and move on from. If the hospital stays closed, and the most interested replacement operators remained locked out, that means Lakewood’s economy is hundreds of millions short of our potential, year after year.

The real cost of the Issue 64 plan is much bigger than the immediate cost. It’s the cost to our future.

To keep Lakewood strong today and in the future, vote against 64.

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Be part of your campaign this Saturday

This Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m., help get out the vote against Issue 64

Join State Senator Michael J. Skindell at our GOTV kickoff Sept. 24. Enjoy pizza & snacks, as we outline the many ways that volunteers can help us repeal the deal that threatens the strength of our community.

Afterward we’ll roll up our sleeves and get started together. If you haven’t campaigned before, this is a great chance to get help from friends who know the ropes. See you Sept. 24 at noon—rain or shine!—at at 11910 Detroit Ave.

Issue 64 is our first and only direct public vote on the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital. Your help can make the difference!

Reality Check: court battles

The vote on Issue 64, whatever its outcome, will not mean Lakewood has to go to court. But one side in the debate over 64 and Lakewood Hospital has shown a consistent preference for the courtroom.

In 2015, Lakewood residents concerned by mismanagement of our publicly owned hospital called on city and hospital officials to enforce the terms of its lease to the Cleveland Clinic. Thousands of citizens supported the call for officials to defend Lakewood’s rights throughout the lease’s remaining decade. Local officials declined even to attempt doing so. Citizens then reluctantly suggested that they would seek judicial enforcement of our rights if necessary—but delayed the final step of a court filing for several more weeks in hope that City Hall would reconsider.

Since then, citizen plaintiffs have made every effort to minimize the burden on the courts and taxpaying public. Five residents represent thousands of other Lakewoodites, in order to avoid the avalanche of costly paperwork which would have accompanied a larger official number of plaintiffs. In December, cleveland.com reported the judge advising an out-of-court resolution:

“I’m of the opinion that some meaningful mediation would be helpful here,” [Judge John] O’Donnell told the attorneys. “I’m of that opinion, but I can’t force it.” O’Donnell said if the parties agreed, he or another judge could mediate or the parties could hire an outside mediator.

City and hospital officials declined to explore this option. Citizens’ legal counsel, by contrast, “said he would be open to mediation.” In his exact words, “We’re always willing to talk and try to resolve matters.”

That’s worth keeping in mind, whenever someone tries to claim that Issue 64’s opponents want to keep the city tied up in court.

Fundraising Reception, Sept. 20

State Senator Michael J. Skindell and other members of the Save Lakewood Hospital Committee, along with former congressman Dennis Kucinich, invite you to attend a fundraiser in support of the campaign to defeat Issue 64 and protect the health of our city:

A Fundraising Reception for Save Lakewood Hospital
Tuesday, September 20 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Emerald Necklace Marina Waterside Room
1500 Cleveland Metropark Drive, Lakewood

Donors are invited to sponsor a table (includes six tickets) for $300 or purchase one ticket for $150; sponsorship at either level will be acknowledged in the evening’s program. Individual tickets are also available for $50.

For information or to RSVP, call (216) 586-2401 or download a reservation form here.

Donations to Save Lakewood Hospital are also welcome at any time, though your contribution is not tax-deductible.

Lakewood & the strong cities movement

The deal on this fall’s ballot as Issue 64 is a bad deal by itself: a closed hospital, downgraded local services and a financial soaking. But it’s also an important choice about our broader future as a city. Is Issue 64’s junior-partner role the best that Lakewood can do now? Or will we remain a vibrant Lakewood, that can stand on its own in a competitive environment?

We believe that Lakewood can and should keep fighting to make the best we can of our city. It’s for this reason that our current campaign encourages voters to vote against 64, and to keep Lakewood strong.

The campaign for a strong Lakewood draws on important work taking place locally, and in other cities making progress with similar challenges. The Strong Towns project, an independent national nonprofit, is a powerful advocate for this work. Their web site, events, podcasts and videos offer rich context for the need to keep our cities—including Lakewood—strong.

Strong Towns emphasizes values and ideas which inform our campaign against 64, and which outline a better path to follow instead. Some characteristics of a strong city:

  • “Obsessive about accounting for its revenues, expenses, assets and long term liabilities (do the math)”
  • “Building at a scale, and with a level of detail and nuance, that creates a sense-of-place for a person on foot.”
  • “Inspired by bottom-up action and not top-down systems.”

Above all, “Strong cities, towns and neighborhoods cannot happen without strong citizens (people who care).” Please help keep Lakewood strong, too.

A great city set to reject a bad deal in November

City Officials Set Course for Decline

In Lakewood, there are signs of a city on the rise. Property values are up, city parks are beautiful and trendy new restaurants are opening. Hanging over this positive trend is a a plan for a city in decline: the plan that closed Lakewood Hospital. Oddly enough, it was designed and advocated by city officials. As court documents and public records requests bring more and more disturbing facts behind the closure to light, citizens can’t help wondering if city officials are careless or flat-out corrupt. More and more citizens plan on voting against the ordinance in the upcoming November election.

Here are some of the facts that, more and more, reveal a process as bad as the deal.

  1. An offer from MetroHealth to operate Lakewood’s hospital was hidden from voters. It was only after public records request were made that it was uncovered.
  2. Revelations of improper bid-steering, that gave The Cleveland Clinic an inside track to build a much smaller “Family Health Center” and abandon the hospital, while blocking all competitive operators who could have kept the hospital open.
  3. In a move that limits health care options and increases prices for Lakewood residents, city officials negotiated a restrictive covenant, keeping other health care operators out of the now empty Lakewood Hospital while the Clinic operates its “Family Health Center” across the street.
  4. With 10 years left on the lease, Lakewood released the Clinic of its obligation to operate the hospital, effectively torpedoing over one thousand jobs averaging $59,000 a year. What community leader would close a city’s largest employer? It defies rational explanation.
  5. Why did public servants allow the Clinic to mismanage the hospital and strip it of profitable, life-saving services.

Many people assumed that the closing of Lakewood Hospital had to do with national trend towards centralized health care. But time and investigation is proving that this is not the case. The city’s hospital has been closed by city officials, whose interest in pleasing the Clinic has for suspicious reason taken priority over the interests of the citizens they are pledged to represent.

As the vote to overturn the ordinance that closed the hospital looms in November’s election, determination to reassert the people’s role in keeping Lakewood strong is growing.

Read More

Reality Check: 24/7 emergency care, for now

Lakewood’s emergency room no longer has a hospital attached, which means that heart attack, stroke and other critical patients who arrive must be transferred elsewhere.

It still provides a place to turn, here in Lakewood, 24 hours a day. But there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so.

The agreement which closed Lakewood Hospital addresses emergency care. But the Emergency Services section (on page four) begins by saying that “there is a present need for an emergency department in Lakewood, available on a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year basis.” Not a permanent need.

The agreement states that the Cleveland Clinic “will address this need by opening the FHC [Family Health Center] with an emergency department.” After that, however, “The need for emergency services may change” and will be subject to “ongoing evaluation.”

No agreement which includes language like this guarantees 24/7 emergency care.

That isn’t a hypothetical issue for many years from now, either. The Cleveland Clinic has already decided that northeast Ohio communities do not need a 24/7 ER or any local emergency care at all. Last November, the Clinic shut down a freestanding ER in Sagamore Hills with exactly one month’s warning—and told residents that converting the ER to an Express Care office actually benefited them.

According to the Clinic, “This new level of care will better serve residents” compared with the ER it replaced.

The deal that closed Lakewood Hospital doesn’t guarantee 24/7 emergency care close to home—it risks leaving our city without local emergency care at all. Vote against Issue 64 to give Lakewood a better future instead.

This fall, vote AGAINST Issue 64

This November 8, Lakewood will vote on the deal to close Lakewood Hospital, which will appear on ballots as Issue 64.

Because the Board of Elections assigns issue numbers to cities in the alphabetical order of their names, a number may be reused in multiple years. But Issue 64 in the 2016 election is a new choice: the first and only direct public vote on closing Lakewood Hospital. We have a choice to vote for, or against the ordinance that closed the hospital.

Issue 64 will appear on the ballot as follows:

Ballot language of Nov. 2016 Issue 64To vote against the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital, vote AGAINST the ordinance on Issue 64.

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.

Hospital Vote Q&A at Lakewood Library Sept. 13

Lakewood’s main library is the place to get informed about the upcoming vote on Lakewood Hospital.

This November, local voters will make a choice for or against a city ordinance closing Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital. With early voting coming up even sooner, voters are invited to learn the details of this choice at a public Q&A, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13.

Everyone attending the free event can take home a voter guide with information from the Board of Elections. Along with the issue number for this vote, which the board will announce this month, the guide will include ballot language and important voting deadlines. Panelists at the event will talk about these basics as well, along with the facts and background of this big decision.

Front porch of Lakewood main libraryFollowing the brief presentation, panelists will take audience questions on any and all aspects of the pending vote. The evening’s panel will feature experienced representatives from law and government, including leaders of Save Lakewood Hospital.

Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young says that “This evening is local democracy at its simplest and best. Community leaders will sit down with neighbors, and discuss the issues and process of an important vote, face to face.”

The Sept. 13 event will take place at Lakewood’s main library, 15425 Detroit Avenue, in the first-floor multipurpose room. (The entrance to the multipurpose room is reached through the children’s department.) Advance registration is required as seating is limited, but all are encouraged to sign-up while spaces last by calling (216) 586-2401. There is no cost to register.

Big support at campaign kick-off

Thank you to everyone who made yesterday’s campaign kick-off potluck a big success—especially the many new friends who turned out to join us. Your support will make the difference in getting a better deal for the great community we all love.

Anyone looking to get involved, or stay involved, can call (216) 586-2401 any time about volunteer opportunities, or read about other ways to help.

Young and old enjoyed the kick-off potluck
Young and old enjoyed the kick-off potluck

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August updates

A brief update on some of the things happening and coming up, as August advances:

  • It’s time to move into action, and get out the vote to defeat the deal which closed Lakewood Hospital. Drop by the campaign kick-off potluck on Sept. 4 to get started!
  • In the most recent Lakewood Observer, Bill Mager looks into what became of the deal’s cheerleaders, “Build Lakewood.” Sharp-eyed citizens have taken a look at the group’s relaunch under yet another identity, meanwhile, and apparently they still haven’t studied the basic facts of their own deal.
  • The Observer‘s publisher draws a contrast between the disastrous top-down deal, and another local project which shows how making decisions openly, as a community, is the way to real progress.
  • Our campaign site stronglakewood.com looked at a related issue, recently, in examining the deal’s brand of imitation progress with a shiny exterior.

Check back for more news, or connect on Facebook and Twitter—and remember to vote against the deal on Nov. 8 to open up better options!

The Cleveland Clinic Way in Lakewood

Cleveland Clinic magnet
If your magnet has different text, it is probably a misprint.

The Cleveland Clinic has mailed a postcard to Lakewood residents, digging in on misleading claims about its freestanding emergency department. No one should be fooled; the claim that Clinic physicians “skillfully treat… cardiac arrest and stroke” is still carefully separated from any promise that they do so in Lakewood. The don’t, and no one should turn to Lakewood’s ER for anything other than delays in real treatment for these conditions.

Meanwhile, this glossy advertisement makes another promise, less directly dangerous but even more plainly false: “In Lakewood. For Lakewood.” Really?

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Upcoming: August forum & Sept. potluck

You are cordially invited to meet and mingle, at two upcoming free events:

Campaign Kick-off Potluck

Sunday, September 4, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Kiwanis Pavilion at Lakewood Park

Join in as we kick off campaign season, and get the scoop on what we’re doing to win & how you can help! Bring a dish to share, and drinks for yourself and guests. Ice will be provided along with

  • Hot dogs
  • Raffles for a gift basket, and a Cavaliers plaque
  • a 50/50 raffle

RSVP for this free event at 216-586-2401. Volunteers are welcome, too!

Q&A on Healthcare and Lakewood Hospital’s Future

Sunday, August 21, 1 p.m.
Madison branch library, 13229 Madison Ave.

Independent experts in medicine, law and finance will offer their perspectives on healthcare in Lakewood, and November’s hospital referendum. Local pulmonologist Dr. Terry Kilroy and other panelists will give a brief presentation, followed by an open question-and-answer session.

The forum is free to attend, but please register in advance by calling 216-586-2401. (You’ll receive a confirmation call within 24 hours.)

The next forum is scheduled for Sept. 13, check back for more details!

Yes, Lakewood Hospital does merit a do-over

Remember the backyard hens? Remember how long city council spent considering whether or not to permit hens in Lakewood yards? The Lakewood Observer records council debating this modest question at least as far back as 2011. This May, council finally voted on this issue… having deemed at least five years necessary to judge any settled, permanent policy… and even then approved only a limited number of licenses.

Yet members of council take offense at the very suggestion that their disposal of Lakewood Hospital was premature.

Confronted with one objection after another from the public, and finally with thousands of signatures petitioning to overturn the hospital’s closing, council members have insisted that they did everything which could be done. Time and again they have repeated that they spent a whole 11 months studying the issue. Asked for a formal, open bidding process, council responds that due diligence was performed. How then, they ask, can citizens possibly justify starting over again?

Perhaps because 11 months’ study is apparently inadequate for backyard hens, and just might not guarantee a thorough examination of Lakewood’s largest employer, either?

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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 our behalf—to a political group that opposed public input on the hospital’s future.

$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, too.

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

$78,000,000: anticipated costs of “winding down” operations of Lakewood Hospital. These costs are poorly explained at present—but according to Mayor Mike Summers, the Cleveland Clinic may pay only a small portion of them.

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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. [Update: the deal will be Issue 64.] 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 a done deal?

A: The hospital facility still belongs to Lakewood, and the legislation that closed it will be on November’s ballot as Issue 64, for voters to approve or reject. Lakewood can reject it and instead pursue a genuine, open bidding process for new partners to operate our hospital.

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

A: No. Last year’s election was to amend the city charter, not to close the hospital. Even if that Issue had passed, the public would still face a vote to approve a closing. (The Board of Elections assigns issue numbers to cities based on their names’ place in the alphabet, and Lakewood issues generally fall in a similar place; therefore the deal will appear on 2016’s ballot as Issue 64.)

Q: If we reject the deal it will cost us more?

A: No. A vote against 64 can improve our options by permitting market bidding for some or all hospital assets, but cannot impose additional costs. Lakewood can’t end up on the hook for debt, because the hospital was not in debt. The city would not have to run the hospital at a loss, either. Lakewood Hospital was never taxpayer-subsidized.

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 1,000 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: 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: 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:

  • removal of restrictions on use of our hospital campus for medical services
  • a qualified consultant to legitimately market our hospital to all potential partners
  • a “right-sized” full-service community hospital and emergency room in Lakewood
  • 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

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.”


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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The bottom-line value of Lakewood Hospital

The deal to break up Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital and privatize most of the pieces fails our community, in multiple ways.

But at the most basic level, the deal also fails a test of simple arithmetic: even from a short-term, cold hard cash perspective, Lakewood comes up short by at least $80 million.

The combined fair market value of all our hospital property, rights and associated assets is at least $120 million.

  • A study of hospital sales by Subsidium proposed a $70 million value for our hospital, based on averaging recent hospital sales. (It seems reasonable to use this figure, rather than one based on “distressed” hospital sales, given that University Hospitals recently paid $45 million for one-half of St. John’s Hospital, which has 204 bed licenses compared with Lakewood’s 240.)
  • Lakewood Hospital Association reported liquid assets of $50 million in its September 2015 financial statement.

Under the terms of the Cleveland Clinic’s lease on Lakewood Hospital, all of this would revert to Lakewood upon termination of the lease. In comparison, a generous assessment of the deal’s compensation to Lakewood adds up to only $40 million.

  • Including cash payments and potential income from selling the hospital site, Lakewood receives about $23 million from the deal.
  • If money placed in a new health foundation (which will not be owned by the Lakewood public) is included, this adds nearly $17 million to the deal’s financial benefits.

You don’t have to be smarter than a fifth grader to complete the math:

$120 million
-$40 million 
 $80 million in public assets transferred into private hands without fair compensation

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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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.

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

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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


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.

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.

Read More

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.

Lawsuit filed against Clinic, city of Lakewood

Arguments over the future—and past—of health care in Lakewood are going to court. At a press conference this morning, attorney Chris DeVito announced that he has filed suit against the Cleveland Clinic, the government of Lakewood and others, on behalf of the people of Lakewood.

DeVito is seeking $400 million in damages, on behalf of Lakewood, for breach of contract, fraud, and other harm resulting from mismanagement of the city-owned hospital. In addition to compensation for damages, the lawsuit calls for Cleveland Clinic to comply with all terms of its lease of Lakewood Hospital, currently effective through 2026.

Based on Mayor Summers’s insistence that the Clinic’s letter of intent, which would break that lease, requires a response from Lakewood as soon as possible, DeVito hopes Judge John P. O’Donnell will expedite the suit’s path to court.

Further details, and a copy of the lawsuit itself, are available at cleveland.com.

Metrohealth, other updates

The CEO of Metrohealth has replied to a letter from Lakewood’s mayor, declining to commence any new proposal for Lakewood Hospital. As reported at cleveland.com, Mayor Summers has since assured Metrohealth that contrary to its objection, Lakewood is “not bound to any agreement with the Cleveland Clinic regarding the future of Lakewood Hospital.”

Lakewood city council has recently joined the back-and-forth, seeking a more direct conversation. Council vice president Ryan Nowlin has asked Metrohealth’s CEO to meet council in person; any response remains unknown at present.

Meanwhile, council has taken other steps away from the Cleveland Clinic letter of intent. Council has solicited proposals from consultants to investigate most of the arguments advanced by the Clinic, and by the consulting firm Subsidium which presented its own findings earlier this year.

Finally, attorney Chris DeVito (who challenged the city of Lakewood to take Cleveland Clinic to court, in April) will announce further news this Thursday, May 28. Save Lakewood Hospital supporters are invited to meet at the corner of Belle and Detroit avenues at 11 a.m.

Lakewood’s Mayor Approaches Metrohealth

In a novel development, Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers has written to the CEO of Metrohealth, inquiring after its interest in operating Lakewood Hospital.

As reported at cleveland.com today, a May 18 letter from Summers poses a series of questions about terms on which Metrohealth might provide hospital services in Lakewood. The possibility of maintaining a full-service hospital is among these.

Combined with Summers’s declaring himself “duty-bound as mayor to explore every option available to the citizens of Lakewood,” the letter constitutes a significant change of emphasis from the mayor’s recent advocacy of the Cleveland Clinic’s letter of intent.