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.