MetroHealth says it offered proposal for Lakewood Hospital

By Bruce Geiselman, Northeast Ohio Media Group 
on April 29, 2015 at 2:16 PM

LAKEWOOD, Ohio – Save Lakewood Hospital and its supporters have urged the city to find another health care provider, such as MetroHealth Medical Center, to keep open Lakewood Hospital.

Lakewood Hospital Association trustees repeatedly have said MetroHealth withdrew from talks about operating the hospital, but a MetroHealth spokeswoman on Tuesday seemed to say Lakewood made the decision.

“Yes we responded to the [request for proposals],” MetroHealth spokeswoman Tina Shaerban Arundel said in a written statement. “The city of Lakewood decided to go with the Clinic’s proposal.”

Arundel also said MetroHealth is interested in working with communities on meeting their health care needs.

“We are always looking at ways to collaborate with health care providers and community leaders to see if there’s a role MetroHealth can play in building up the health of the community,” she said.

Mayor Michael Summers said he was surprised by MetroHealth’s statement. In response he released a letter from Akram Boutros, president and chief executive officer of MetroHealth, in which Metro withdrew interest in Lakewood Hospital.

“MetroHealth has spent considerable time and effort in response to the [request for proposals] and has set a deadline of October 1 for conclusion,” Boutrous wrote Oct. 3. “Since this date has passed, please accept this as confirmation of our withdrawal from the selection process.”

“Up to this moment, I have respected Metro’s request to abide by the confidentiality agreement that Metro and the trustees signed,” Summers wrote in an email to Northeast Ohio Media Group. “Today’s misleading statements by Metro Hospitals about their withdrawal compels me to make sure the facts are clear.”

Terence Kilroy, a local physician worried about the closing of the hospital, urged City Council Monday to ask MetroHealth to take over Lakewood Hospital. He recommended the city sell the building to MetroHealth for $1. The city should hang onto about $50 million from an existing hospital fund, he said.

However, Lakewood Hospital Association trustees said MetroHealth withdrew its offer. They also expressed doubts about whether Metro’s proposal would have ensured long-term operation of the hospital because of declining inpatient volumes. And they questioned whether Lakewood could have kept any of the hospital funds.

NEOMG has requested a copy of MetroHealth’s proposal for Lakewood Hospital. Summers said he was considering whether to release it, but wanted to talk with Boutros first. A similar request was made of MetroHealth.

Council is sorting out a proposal to close Lakewood Hospital and open in its place a Cleveland Clinic family health center and 24-hour emergency department. The Lakewood Hospital Association and Cleveland Clinic officials unveiled the plan in January because of declining inpatient volumes and revenues.

City Council plans a public meeting for Thursday at 6 p.m. with representatives of the Cleveland Clinic about its plans for the Lakewood family health center.