Closing Lakewood Hospital may cost $300 million/year

On Monday, Save Lakewood Hospital chair Marguerite Harkness presented city council with a troubling warning about the economic impact of eliminating the city’s hospital.

Save Lakewood Hospital’s research and finance committees calculate that the hospital contributes more than $294 million to Lakewood, annually, far in excess of the city’s own estimates. Harkness modeled her report on an economic impact report prepared by the Iowa Hospital Association.

Harkness’s appearance has been reported by cleveland.com, here. Her complete presentation to council follows.

Author’s note: “As is typical, Council generously granted me only 3 minutes at the end of the meeting and cut me off mid-sentence. How are they going to learn about other options for saving the hospital, if they don’t allow educated citizens to present information to them?”

April 27, 2015
From Marguerite Harkness, Chair of Save Lakewood Hospital
To City Council:

We have requested that you hire a firm to conduct an Economic Impact Study to monetize the value of Lakewood Hospital to our community, and to determine the monetary loss if Lakewood Hospital is closed next year.

Having heard nothing from anyone on Council about this study, our committee’s Research and Finance subcommittees have undertaken this effort and have prepared the analysis for you.

Community Hospital is an Irreplaceable Asset

In any community fortunate enough to have a community hospital, the hospital is an irreplaceable asset.

It provides easy access to the broad spectrum of essential health care services – primary care, surgery, laboratory services, emergency care, mental health services, hospice and technology like PET scanning and MRI magnetic resonance imaging.

Lakewood Hospital has provided all of these services for decades. In its mission to care for our residents, it has provided benefits in the form of charity care and reduced-cost services.

Hospitals as health care providers are clearly irreplaceable.

But hospitals are also essential in another way – as economic engines that are among the largest employers in their communities.

Lakewood Hospital is the largest economic engine we have.

It WON’T be – if it is reduced to a “doc in a box” as the Mayor and the Cleveland Clinic want.

EVERY EMPLOYEE AT LAKEWOOD HOSPITAL IS WORTH A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS TO OUR CITY. EVERY YEAR.

The 1100 employees average $60,000 pay and benefits. These are your neighbors – who pay for their mortgages, house insurance, real estate taxes, school taxes to build all our new schools, city income tax. Their pay gets spent and reinvested in our community. They shop at Giant Eagle, Marc’s and Nature’s Bin; they fill their gas tanks, bank at First Federal, Key, Huntington and PNC, invest with local financial advisory firms, remodel their century homes, dine and buy take-out at our many restaurants, buy fine and everyday wines and shop at our boutiques.

Economic Impact is $294 million a year

The monetary benefit to the community, of the 1100 employees of Lakewood Hospital – is over $294 million dollars a year.

How is this possible?

1100 employees generate:
1882 community jobs
705 health care jobs
666 nursing home jobs
Or a total of 4,353 jobs

And that is without considering employees of pharmacies, ambulatory health care services, home health care services, and other health practitioners.

The payroll of these 4,353 jobs may exceed $245 million dollars a year.
The city income tax on this payroll can exceed $3.6 million dollars a year.

Retail sales of $25 million generate Ohio sales tax of $2 million a year; and other (sales-tax-exempt) services purchased by Lakewood Hospital per its audited statements, generate $19 million a year.

What to do about it?

It is quite clear that nobody in the city government has a better solution than to let Cleveland Clinic walk away with our assets. BUT – a sincere, growing, intelligent and dedicated group of Lakewood citizens, is working on solutions. There WILL BE a solution that lets us keep our hospital open, staff it with competent medical personnel, retain our medical technology, and retain in-patient beds in a suitable number to meet our community’s needs—as well as retain good outpatient care and services, and provide care to the needy.

We in Save Lakewood Hospital are not only ready, willing, and able – to help the City officials come up with a better solution. We are already WORKING on it. Some of the best and brightest in Lakewood are imagining and developing solutions that so far have escaped the City, the Lakewood Hospital Association, and the Lakewood Hospital Foundation.

There ARE possibilities. It is important for City Council to get rid of the Letter of Intent and reject any actions that would enact its provisions – so that the real work, the productive work, of rebuilding our hospital can begin.

If you want to help us, meet with us Sundays at 4 pm at Lakewood Library.