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.