Reality Check: 24/7 emergency care, for now

Lakewood’s emergency room no longer has a hospital attached, which means that heart attack, stroke and other critical patients who arrive must be transferred elsewhere.

It still provides a place to turn, here in Lakewood, 24 hours a day. But there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so.

The agreement which closed Lakewood Hospital addresses emergency care. But the Emergency Services section (on page four) begins by saying that “there is a present need for an emergency department in Lakewood, available on a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year basis.” Not a permanent need.

The agreement states that the Cleveland Clinic “will address this need by opening the FHC [Family Health Center] with an emergency department.” After that, however, “The need for emergency services may change” and will be subject to “ongoing evaluation.”

No agreement which includes language like this guarantees 24/7 emergency care.

That isn’t a hypothetical issue for many years from now, either. The Cleveland Clinic has already decided that northeast Ohio communities do not need a 24/7 ER or any local emergency care at all. Last November, the Clinic shut down a freestanding ER in Sagamore Hills with exactly one month’s warning—and told residents that converting the ER to an Express Care office actually benefited them.

According to the Clinic, “This new level of care will better serve residents” compared with the ER it replaced.

The deal that closed Lakewood Hospital doesn’t guarantee 24/7 emergency care close to home—it risks leaving our city without local emergency care at all. Vote against Issue 64 to give Lakewood a better future instead.