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.

This, despite the fact that Anamosa is by no means booming. Five or six years ago, its hospital faced difficulties, too, in fact. It would not surprise me to learn that some people argued that “health care is changing,” and the community would be better off letting go. Instead, Anamosa retooled, reinvested and revitalized a hospital which is now not only thriving, but completing an expansion.

It’s worth noting that the situation is different from Lakewood’s, certainly. Among other things, Anamosa’s hospital is the only one in Jones County. But land doesn’t go to the hospital—people do, and Lakewood’s population is substantially more than twice that of all Jones County, combined.

Lakewood can’t sustain a full-service hospital? Perhaps Iowans are just simple folk, but I don’t think we’ll ever understand this.

Matt Kuhns
Lakewood resident since 2008