Stroke Victim’s Travails Expose Broken Promises of Quality Health Care

For Immediate Release —

When Marjorie Harris suffered a stroke early one morning at her home in Lakewood, what followed laid bare serious flaws in promises made to Lakewood residents. These promises were meant to convince residents that even though Lakewood Hospital is closed, this community would receive the same world class care as before.

One of these promises was made when City Council President Sam O’Leary said a mobile stroke unit operated by the Cleveland Clinic would provide “21st century life-saving care at your doorstep.” But the mobile unit never showed at Ms. Harris’s doorstep.  The unit covers 10 cities and was no doubt too distant and too occupied to be of assistance.

With no mobile stroke unit available, Ms. Harris was taken to Fairview Hospital in an EMS vehicle.  According to its website, Fairview has a special certification as a “Primary Stroke Center.” It promises a medical team that will deliver “comprehensive care diagnosing and treating patients quickly and significantly improving health and recovery.”

But when Ms. Harris arrived at Fairview, there was no neurosurgeon on hand to perform the critical procedure needed to ensure full recovery and, potentially, simply to save her life.  The only option was to life-flight her to the Clinic’s main campus on Cleveland’s east side.  As she was being life-flighted, her husband faced an hour-long drive in rush hour traffic from Fairview to the Main Campus.  Upon his arrival, Mr. Harris found that surgeons were still waiting for his signature to begin the need operation.  According to Mr. Harris, his wife’s stroke symptoms started at 6:30 AM.  He estimates that she went into surgery at 10:30 AM.

When it comes to strokes, medical professionals all know that “time is tissue.”  Treatment must be administered within an hour of the onset of symptoms. Otherwise, chances of recovery dwindle and chances of mortality increase.  It was four hours before Ms. Harris received the treatment she so desperately needed.  Her life was saved, but recovery has been compromised.

When Lakewood Hospital was open, the critical care Ms. Harris needed was less than five minutes away from her home.  Three neurosurgeons were available at all times, assuring timely care, increasing chances of life-saving treatment.

The events that followed the onset of Ms. Harris’ stroke make it painfully obvious: the “Quality Healthcare” that city officials and the Clinic assured residents, when Lakewood Hospital was closed, is just another broken promise.

A majority vote against Issue 64, on November 8th, will repeal the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital.

Mr. Harris chronicles the day of his wife’s stroke in a video interview.

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Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital