Respected former city councilwoman denounces Issue 64

Few people are more qualified to comment on the future of Lakewood Hospital than Nancy Roth, who has served on city council and as executive director of Health Systems Agency of North Central Ohio. While on Lakewood City council, Roth took part in negotiating the 1996 lease of Lakewood Hospital, which Issue 64 tears up.

In a letter to the Sun Post Herald, Roth writes that “it never crossed my mind that it would be purposefully dismantled,” or “that Council would adopt an ordinance including a non-compete clause giving the Clinic power over the use of a city-owned facility.”

Roth advises voters that “What has happened to Lakewood Hospital is wrong… but it’s not over!” Please read the entire letter, and act on her call to vote AGAINST Issue 64.

Yes, Lakewood Hospital does merit a do-over

Remember the backyard hens? Remember how long city council spent considering whether or not to permit hens in Lakewood yards? The Lakewood Observer records council debating this modest question at least as far back as 2011. This May, council finally voted on this issue… having deemed at least five years necessary to judge any settled, permanent policy… and even then approved only a limited number of licenses.

Yet members of council take offense at the very suggestion that their disposal of Lakewood Hospital was premature.

Confronted with one objection after another from the public, and finally with thousands of signatures petitioning to overturn the hospital’s closing, council members have insisted that they did everything which could be done. Time and again they have repeated that they spent a whole 11 months studying the issue. Asked for a formal, open bidding process, council responds that due diligence was performed. How then, they ask, can citizens possibly justify starting over again?

Perhaps because 11 months’ study is apparently inadequate for backyard hens, and just might not guarantee a thorough examination of Lakewood’s largest employer, either?

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Billing taxpayers to prop up a bad deal

The ongoing project to turn Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital into a private health center has a big price tag. Selling people a deal they don’t want is expensive: consultants, advertising, direct mail, etc. Add fees on top of more fees, and the asset write-downs of a no-bid deal.

Then quietly charge it all to taxpayers.

This has been the consistent story behind closing Lakewood Hospital, so far. It’s also the simplest, bottom-line argument for voting against the deal in November and introducing some fiscal discipline to a pricey boondoggle. The direct costs, alone, already run into the hundreds of millions.

For a real sense of the scale of this deal’s expense, it may help to start small and work up from there.

$300: the approximate hourly rate paid by Lakewood to Thompson Hine beginning in April 2015, “in connection with negotiations with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Lakewood Hospital Association, Inc., relating to Lakewood Hospital.” Between then and the negotiated deal announced six months later, a three-digit total of billable hours seems plausible, at least.

$50,000: paid by Lakewood Hospital Association—which officially existed to run a public hospital on our behalf—to a political group that opposed public input on the hospital’s future.

$75,000: the minimum which Lakewood paid to Huron Consulting, for a conclusion-averse study, whose authors apparently provided freelance political campaign work on the public tab, too.

$500,000: paid by Lakewood Hospital Association to Subsidium, for a study so inadequate that city council commissioned the Huron study to review it.

$78,000,000: anticipated costs of “winding down” operations of Lakewood Hospital. These costs are poorly explained at present—but according to Mayor Mike Summers, the Cleveland Clinic may pay only a small portion of them.

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Lakewood’s Health Care Crisis—Debate Rages on

For Immediate Release —

Lakewood is facing a health care crisis as the shortcomings of the city’s freestanding ER have come to light. Tonight, Lakewood citizens will again ask that City Council send a direct mail notice to every resident, clearly stating that in the event of a heart attack, a stroke or other serious illness, they should go directly to a full service hospital rather than Lakewood’s freestanding ER. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

The ER’s shortcomings exist as a consequence of closing the attached, full service hospital that once served this community of 52,000, and is one of the factors that led to the passing of a Lakewood resident who arrived at the ER suffering from a heart attack.

In this video, Dr. Terry Kilroy, a pulmonary critical care specialist in Lakewood, clearly states that in the event of a heart attack or stroke “… any time left on the table leads to increased organ dysfunction and mortality… a freestanding emergency room assures wasted time.” The conclusion is simple. In the serious event of a heart attack or stroke, a stop at Lakewood’s freestanding ER could be a critical mistake. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJvwGTnfUaA

Dr. Kilroy’s position is supported by The Cleveland Clinic’s website* which states: “ Some situations are clearly an emergency: A heart attack, fall off a ladder, serious kitchen burn or bone break. Call 9-1-1 and get your loved one to the nearest hospital.”

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/03/should-you-visit-the-emergency-department-urgent-care-or-express-care/

Pressure is building on council members to warn residents of the shortcomings of the city’s freestanding ER. The major stumbling block appears to be that in announcing the closure of Lakewood Hospital, city and Clinic officials oversold the capability of the freestanding ER, leaving citizens with the impression that their lives were as safe and secure as when the full service hospital was open.

Add to this the revelations of bid rigging that eschewed an opportunity for MetroHealth to operate a full service hospital (http://savelakewoodhospital.org/wp-content/uploads/metrohealth-proposal.pdf), and embattled city officials are sure to face more impassioned addresses like this one from the last council meeting: https://youtu.be/DffnPYeOmxA?t=3m31s   Further reference for Lakewood’s ER shortcomings can be found on our website at http://savelakewoodhospital.org/emergency-care-with-some-exceptions/

Lakewood’s City Council meeting begins tonight at 7:30 at Lakewood City Hall.

* Note: In May 2016, the Cleveland Clinic quietly rewrote the statement, which it had posted only one year earlier, and substituted “emergency department” for “hospital.” Absent explanation, this appears to be just another attempt at spin. The original, uncensored version is preserved at the Internet Archive, and in the screen capture below.

Get your loved one to the nearest hospital.
Screen capture taken March 24, 2016.

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City council selects a date to select a date

The most recent issue of the Lakewood Observer, released Tuesday, described the Feb. 11 meeting of city council as follows:

Voters will have their say on whether or not Lakewood Hospital should be closed.

But city officials will keep citizens, and the Board of Elections, waiting for now.

These were the only firm conclusions reached at a special meeting of City Council on Thursday, February 11, which stretched more than three hours. Council President Sam O’Leary, Ward 2, called the meeting eight days after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reported adequate valid signatures on a petition to repeal authorization to close Lakewood Hospital. Faced with an eventual obligation to perform the repeal themselves, or else allow the referendum, council adjourned without doing either.

A second meeting held Tuesday evening changed little of this. According to cleveland.com, City Council “likely” will deal with the petition on March 7—a further three weeks’ delay. Presumably at that time, council will move on to the issue of when a referendum will take place; how long it will take members to conclude that decision-making process is anyone’s guess.

The Observer’s suggestion, that city officials remain wary of direct and transparent accountability to voters, appears valid.

Obstructionist Council Blows Opportunity to End Public Strife with March Vote

For Immediate Release —

Last night, after a series of unaccounted for delays, Lakewood City Council decided to postpone a March vote to save Lakewood Hospital.

The decision was made at a special council session that was called to discuss placing the issue on the March ballot.

The issue will either be placed in a special election in August, at a cost to taxpayers of between 100,000 and 150,000 dollars, or placed on the November ballot.

The popular conjecture is that council is playing the obstructionist card and purposely delayed the vote, hoping that citizens would forget about it and move on. But the more citizens come to grips with the fact the hospital is closed, the more frustrated they become with their elected officials.

It was with council’s seven votes that the hospital was closed. Pit those seven votes against the 2,686 certified signatures for the referendum to repeal the ordinance, and it is easy to understand that a large and potent movement has begun.

As an ongoing taxpayer lawsuit against city officials and the Cleveland Clinic continues, The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will be setting up forums to educate the public. These forums will carry on until the time that the issue is voted on, be it August or November.

In the meantime, the future of the hospital remains in limbo, and our city remains divided as council missed a golden opportunity to end our city’s strife sooner than later by placing the issue on the March ballot.Read More

High Tide Moment at Special Council Meeting Tonight – Citizens Rally in Front of City Hall

For Immediate Release —

Lakewood City Council has at last fulfilled our committee’s request for a special meeting to consider its response to the citizen’s petition to repeal Ordinance 49-15 that closed Lakewood Hospital.

There is only one way that council can stop the citizen’s referendum from appearing on the 2016 ballot. That is to repeal Ordinance 49-15 by their own accord.

“Anticipation is high as citizens wonder what council will do,” Committee Petition Coordinator Pam Wetula stated. “Will they repeal the deal tonight or will they take immediate action to place the deal on the March ballot while there still might be time to do so? Or will council procrastinate and place it on the ballot later this year? The meeting tonight is a high tide moment in the controversy surrounding the hospital issue. The pressure is all on council’s shoulders. We pray for a just conclusion.”

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will hold a rally in front of Lakewood City Hall tonight at 6 PM. The Council meeting will commence tonight at 6:30 PM.

Download as a Microsoft Word file.

For questions and comments, our contact information is below.

Save Lives, Save Jobs, Save Lakewood, Save Lakewood Hospital.

Thank You,

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital Committee
216-344-0743

Hospital Issue Will Be On 2016 Ballot – But When?

For Immediate Release —

One week ago, Lakewood City Council was informed by The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee that a petition to put the hospital issue on the ballot in 2016 would soon be placed in their hands.

With seven days to ponder the issue, council has yet to make a decision.

To make the March ballot, council must call a special session and vote to put it on that ballot. Council’s continued silence will mean the issue is headed to the November ballot, or else a special election which would cost Lakewood taxpayers between $100,000 and $150,000. The Board of Elections can only wait for so long.

This is a big decision and the sooner made, the better for everyone involved. Otherwise, the future of the hospital remains in limbo.

We respectfully advocate that Lakewood City Council assemble in special session today or tomorrow and allow voters to freely choose, in March, what the future of their health care will be.

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Unsure, Lakewood Council Procrastinates While Deadline Looms

For Immediate Release —

The Board of Elections has delivered the certified signatures needed to place a referendum for the future of the Lakewood Hospital on the ballot. By law, the referendum is guaranteed to be up for a vote in this calendar year. It is in the hands of city council to decide when.

“We advocate that the referendum be placed on the March ballot,” said Pam Wetula, petition committee coordinator. “But if council continues to procrastinate and does not meet next week’s deadline set by the Board of Elections, then it will be up for a vote later this year. Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to delay big decisions like this. We all hope council makes a decision soon.”

To make the deadline, council must call a special session to vote to place the referendum on the March ballot. If they do not make that deadline then the issue will be placed in a costly special election, possibly occurring as late as August, or wind up on the November ballot.

The closure of the Lakewood Hospital is not a done deal. The very existence of the certified referendum petition triggers a vote that determines the future of the hospital. The sooner the issue is placed on the ballot, the sooner the citizens of Lakewood can freely choose the future of their healthcare.

“The deadline looms,” Wetula added. “Procrastination only perpetuates disunity, dysfunction and delays a chance to heal this community’s wounds.”

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Thursday: fundraiser & special council meeting

This Thursday, Feb. 11, the Save Lakewood Hospital calendar includes two very important events: a fundraiser, and an evening rally at city hall.

First, a fundraiser at Angelo’s Pizza from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Angelo’s will donate 20% of any food or soft drink purchase! Just mention Save Lakewood Hospital with your order, and help fund efforts to overturn the planned closure of our hospital. Angelo’s is located at 13715 Madison Ave.

Second, Lakewood City Council has scheduled a special meeting for to address the citizen petition to overturn the hospital closing. The Board of Elections has confirmed that petitioners collected more than enough valid signatures to require a referendum in 2016. Council must approve the petition, themselves, or else schedule the referendum—but members have remained slow to act.

We invite everyone who supports keeping Lakewood’s hospital open to attend a rally at 6 p.m., followed by Thursday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. Help us call on City Council to end the delays. Join us at City Hall, 12650 Detroit Ave.

Download a flier to share about the rally.

Hospital Referendum Process Continues

For Immediate Release —

The process to place a referendum to repeal the ordinance to close Lakewood Hospital on the March ballot is very much alive and continues tonight (February 1st), as The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee prepares to address Lakewood City Council.

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will ask council to schedule a special meeting to approve the referendum’s language, to meet a February 9th deadline so it can make the March ballot.

“People on both sides of this issue are anxious to get this vote on the ballot as soon as possible,” petition coordinator Pam Wetula stated. “Our committee members have worked very hard to gather the necessary signatures and The Board of Elections is working equally hard to move the process along as quickly as possible. We hope that City Council matches these efforts and does their part to keep this process on track for a spot on the March ballot.”

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Board of Election officials have indicated that they will complete the current phase of the process and have their certification to Lakewood city officials to execute the next phase of the process by Thursday, February 4.

The city council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

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Necessity for a referendum, explained

Citizens’ petitions for a referendum on the planned closure of Lakewood Hospital have been delivered to the Board of Elections. Some inside (and outside) City Hall continue to oppose the idea of a citizen vote on this issue, meanwhile; one petitioner has offered a thoughtful explanation via The Lakewood Observer:

Throughout 2015 Lakewood officials encouraged us to have faith in their handling of Lakewood Hospital. They did so in general terms, often, insisting e.g. on their “due diligence” before finally endorsing a proposal to board up the city’s hospital. But they also made some very specific promises about their obligations as public servants.

In a May 22 letter to MetroHealth, Councilman Ryan Nowlin wrote that “We are… evaluating the nonbinding proposal advanced by the Lakewood Hospital Association and the Cleveland Clinic, and we must do so with respect to any other proposals as well.” Council, wrote Nowlin, was “perfectly free to consider any proposals regarding the future of healthcare in Lakewood, and indeed we are obligated to do so as community stewards if such a proposal is presented.” [Emphases added]

Around the same time, Mayor Summers wrote that “I am duty-bound as mayor to explore every option available” to keep our community-owned hospital operating.

Based on these statements (and a hospital still open after months of warnings), Lakewood went into an election assured that if any possibility existed to keep the city’s hospital, then incumbent leaders would embrace it.

They didn’t.

Read the rest at The Observer.

Officials fail city, future in citizens’ hands

On Monday evening, Lakewood city council rubber-stamped a secretly negotiated 11th-hour plan to surrender Lakewood Hospital to Cleveland Clinic. The Clinic intends, with this authority, to complete its illicit decanting of what has always been a community-owned hospital, and to lock up health care in Lakewood for Clinic-owned hospitals elsewhere. Facing multiple lawsuits and possible investigations of their maladministration, the Clinic and its apologists apparently hope to thwart justice with a fait accompli.

The people of Lakewood do not have to let this happen. Council has embraced a false narrative of the Clinic or nothing, blatantly ignoring the active overtures of a fully qualified alternative. Lakewood owes it to future generations, as well as the most vulnerable populations now and tomorrow, to employ every legal means to block the handover of our hospital and negotiate an alternative to the Cleveland Clinic’s dishonesty and theft.

Please don’t begin the coming year by giving up on your community. If council has lost the will to fight for Lakewood’s interests, honest working citizens have not.

10 Things About Lakewood Hospital

The following review of Lakewood Hospital facts is also available as a PDF you can download and print out.

1) Lakewood Hospital is Owned by the Citizens Of Lakewood. The land and buildings, every MRI, ultrasound, operating table, every piece of lab equipment—right down to each light bulb—are all owned by Lakewood residents.

2) The Clinic Leases the Hospital. There are 10 more years left on the lease.

3) A $400 Million Lawsuit Has Unearthed Secret Documents and testimonies revealing that the Clinic planned and implemented the destruction of Lakewood Hospital with empty promises to make the hospital sustainable for years to come. Dennis Kucinich explains in this video.

4) The Hospital Was Profitable until this year, even after the Clinic removed nearly two dozen services and departments beginning in 2007, culminating this past January with the closing of the cardiac catheterization lab. The Clinic said the state health department made them close this most profitable unit, which was not true. The City’s three representatives on the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) board did nothing. City Council stood by tacitly as the hospital was steadily emptied of valuable resources.

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Council’s response to critics: misdirection & hand-waving

The City of Lakewood web site now includes a FAQ about the proposed new “Master Agreement” with Cleveland Clinic. Naturally—given the disastrous proposal it defends—it is another muddle of evasions and internal contradictions.

The highlight, as such, was posted Friday at the Observation Deck forum:

Q: “What makes you trust the Clinic?”
A: “…Trust doesn’t enter in this. It’s about the numbers and the assurances in the legally binding agreement…”

Q: “Why can’t you detail all the services that will be available at the new health center?”
A: “The city doesn’t want to be in the business of micromanaging any health care providers’ services…”

So, it isn’t about trust, it’s about the “assurances in the legally binding agreement”. But there aren’t any assurances because we don’t “want to be in the business of micromanaging”.

The assertion that Lakewood will be guaranteed anything by a “legally binding agreement” with Cleveland Clinic is daft. Cleveland Clinic cheats. By contrast, Mayor Summers’s administration has already refused to support a lawsuit against the Clinic’s sabotage of the current agreement, and Summers himself said this fall that “I don’t believe in suing and auditing your way to success.”

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Skindell files Open Meetings Act Lawsuit

Michael J. Skindell today announced that he has filed action in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (MICHAEL J. SKINDELL v. MARY LOUISE MADIGAN, ET AL., Civil Case Number CV-15-855961) alleging that Lakewood City Council violated Ohio’s Open Meeting Act when the council held multiple closed meetings to deliberate and draft an agreement to close Lakewood Hospital. Skindell is currently the State Senator representing Lakewood in the Ohio Legislature.

The Open Meetings Act requires that all public bodies take official action and conduct all deliberations only in open meetings where the public can attend and observe. R.C. § 121.22(A). The law allows a public body to hold an “executive session”, i.e., closed meeting, on certain matters including purchase of property or sale of property in some competitive bidding situations. R.C. § 121.22(G) and (J). Official action by a public body which violates the provision of the Open Meeting Act is invalid. R.C. § 121.22(H).

In the action alleging that city council violated the law, Michael Skindell cites  the fact that reasons supplied for the executive sessions — [g]eneral conversation about the Letter of Intent submitted to Council by the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA), the Lakewood Hospital Foundation (LHF), and Cleveland Clinic (referred 1/20/15), including the potential purchase of property; the sale of real or personal property by competitive bid if disclosure of the information would result in a competitive advantage to the person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest; and/or pending litigation — were not proper topics for closed meetings. In addition, matters discussed were beyond the reasons in the notice. Skindell points out that although there were reasons noticed for the closed session such as purchase of property by the city, and sale of property by competitive bid, there was no purchase of property or sale of property by competitive bidding as part of the agreement.

Michael Skindell stated: “During my eighteen years in public office I have always advocated for transparency and accountability in government. This action against Lakewood City Council is to correct, in what I perceive, an abuse of the public trust. Citizens have a right to know what their government is up to and how they reached their decisions. It is my belief that Lakewood City Council violated the law in reaching their agreement involving the closing of Lakewood Hospital. I have a responsibility to the people to ensure that government is open and accountable to the public.”

Judge Stuart Friendman has scheduled a hearing for Monday, December 21, 2015, to consider a Skindell’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

Council Can’t Defend a Bad Deal

The public’s message to city council is clear. Nearly 80% of the public comments that stretched Monday evening’s meeting for three and one-half hours were opposed to the new “Master Agreement” to close Lakewood Hospital and hand city assets over to Cleveland Clinic.

Council members, by contrast, tied themselves into rhetorical knots trying to defend the indefensible.

The most revealing example may be Councilman Tom Bullock’s assertion that “Some times your choices are between two bad… I think that’s what we’re in here.” This summarized a theme repeated throughout the evening, that council is trying to deal with “reality” and that an imperfect deal with Cleveland Clinic is better than an alternative of a bankrupt hospital. As one public speaker after another pointed out, however, the two bad choices proposed by Mr. Bullock are a false reality created by Council; city officials have not only failed to make a sincere pursuit of alternatives, but have recently refused even to engage with one alternative that has actively sought them out.

Councilman David Anderson claimed that “we cannot compel LHA to reopen the process” to contact alternative hospital systems, and Councilman Shawn Juris insisted that city officials “don’t have a direct obligation, or a way to compel a health care provider to provide services.” Yet this is blatantly contradicted by council’s own repeated statements.

In May, Council vice president Ryan Nowlin wrote—in a letter actively soliciting information from Metrohealth—that “City council is perfectly free to consider any proposals regarding the future of healthcare in Lakewood, and indeed we are obligated to do so as community stewards if such a proposal is presented.” During Monday’s meeting, Councilman Bullock stated that “If the Tennessee group [Surgical Development Partners] makes a concrete proposal” he would be interested in talking to them; meanwhile the repeated references by every member of council to “negotiations” with Cleveland Clinic confirm that council not only has more leverage than Mr. Anderson proposed, but has also applied a double-standard in exempting Cleveland Clinic from the demands it would apply to Surgical Development Partners.

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Explaining the proposal: Monday, Dec. 14

Lakewood City Council has scheduled a special meeting for December 14—at a special, early time—for a second reading of its proposed agreement to close Lakewood Hospital.

At 5:00 p.m., Save Lakewood Hospital will explain the misguided details of the proposed Agreement with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Please join us on Monday at City Hall. (Unlike city officials’ closed-door press conference, all will be welcome at our presentation.) Stick around afterward and at 6 p.m. confront council with the real people whom they are trying to ignore.

Other important dates in the next week:

Sunday, Dec. 13 at 4:00 p.m., Save Lakewood Hospital has a meeting in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Main Branch of Lakewood Library. Please try to attend.

Thursday, Dec. 17th. Angelo’s Pizza at 13715 Madison is an all-time favorite haunt of Lakewoodites, and SLH is having a fundraiser there from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Angelo’s will donate 20% of all food and non-alcoholic drinks – provided you mention the Save Lakewood Hospital fundraiser. Good on: Dine-in, Carry-out, Delivery, Gift Cards…. just be sure to mention the Save Lakewood Hospital fundraiser.

New Cleveland Clinic plan crafted in secrecy, sprung in haste

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.

A partner for Lakewood Hospital asks for a hearing

Scene‘s Eric Sandy has published a letter, from Surgical Development Partners of Tennessee, confirming its interest as a potential partner for Lakewood Hospital. From the November 30 letter to Lakewood Hospital Association and members of Lakewood’s government:

…Surgical Development Partners desires to make it clear and avoid any confusion by stating again that it remains extremely interested in purchasing the 850 Columbia Road property [owned by Lakewood Hospital] at a competitive fair market value and also in developing the Lakewood Hospital campus to continue medical and emergency services to the community.

The letter formally requests an opportunity to address the upcoming City Council meeting, Monday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

In a story at cleveland.com, Save Lakewood Hospital vice chair Tom Monahan said “It shows there are entities out there willing to come in. To slam the door on Lakewood residents is unconscionable.”

Surgical Development Partners, according to its web site, “has the industry specific experience and knowledge to tackle the complexities of opening and managing physician owned acute care hospitals in difficult political environments [emphasis added].” Its inclusion of Ohio’s attorney general on its correspondence with LHA suggests that it has, indeed, learned valuable precautions from this highly relevant experience.

Election Analysis

A local offers some nuanced analysis of last week’s election, via the Lakewood Observer:

…Issue 64 was not, itself, a referendum on closing Lakewood Hospital. What’s more, its defeat serves as a reminder that Lakewood’s electorate is home to more than one viewpoint. In studying the results of last Tuesday’s vote, it’s worth examining the point of view of Issue 64’s opponents. One of the most prominent publications to oppose Issue 64 warned that it “could doom Lakewood Hospital,” which certainly casts doubt on whether its defeat represented a mandate to close that same hospital.

The most consistent argument offered against Issue 64, on the other hand, may have been that the hospital’s future should be left up to City Council. If, in light of the issue’s rejection, we regard this proposition as endorsed by voters, it suggests that Tuesday’s results as a whole were a qualified vote against closing Lakewood Hospital.

No person or issue on this year’s ballot campaigned, formally, on a message that “Lakewood Hospital should close.” (Based on published candidate statements, mailings and web sites.) By contrast, a majority of council candidates approved by voters have criticized the proposed hospital closure and argued that Lakewood’s interests should be better defended.

Read more at lakewoodobserver.com

2015 candidates information

This November’s election will be tremendously important to the future of Lakewood and our hospital. As an informational campaign, Save Lakewood Hospital does not endorse any candidate for office. We do encourage every eligible voter to examine local races closely, however, and vote!

As a starting point, we offer this guide to candidate statements, interviews, etc.

General information: League of Women Voters guide (Sept. 29 Lakewood Observer pp. 12-13); cleveland.com council candidate discussions of Lakewood Hospital, charter amendment

Mayor of Lakewood: candidates interview at cleveland.com

City Council Ward 1

City Council Ward 2

City Council Ward 3

City Council Ward 4

Upcoming rally, meetings schedule

The first week of October is very busy for the debate about Lakewood Hospital.

Thursday, Oct. 1: Candidate Forum from 7-9 pm in Lakewood City Hall Auditorium. Candidates for School Board, Municipal Judge, City Council and Mayor will present their positions. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions. (Please note, campaign literature, apparel, signage, buttons, etc are not permitted inside the auditorium. Photography, audio and/or video recording of the candidates is prohibited.)

Saturday Oct. 3 Lakewood Hospital Informational Meeting from 9:30 – 11:30 am in Mr. Winton’s Den at Winton Place, 12700 Lake Ave.
(Tell the front desk that you are there for a meeting in Mr. Winton’s Den. You will be directed from there.)

Terry Kilroy, MD; Ashoka Nautiyal, MD; and Lakewood Hospital Foundation Physician Designees will be there; as well as Michael Summers, Mayor of Lakewood; and Michael Skindell, Ohio State Senator, District 23.

R.S.V.P. if you plan on attending as space is limited.
Nancy Roth: 216.375.5812 or Pat Vecchio: 216.228.6841

Sunday, October 4 Save Lakewood Hospital meeting at 4 p.m. in the main Lakewood Library.

Monday, October 5 Rally at 6:30 p.m. ahead of the City Council meeting, 12650 Detroit Ave. Wear RED! Bring Save Lakewood Hospital Signs! Tell your relatives, friends and neighbors… and children! We are kid-friendly!

Warnings in the Huron consulting report

Huron Consulting, retained by the city of Lakewood in June to study the Cleveland Clinic letter of intent and related issues, submitted its final report in August. Some important points to hang onto, as the debate over Lakewood Hospital proceeds to its next phase:

The 89-page presentation is, judged as a whole, painstakingly noncommittal. Its authors emphasize that they do not provide investment or legal advice (pp. 4, 52), and explicitly caution that they considered neither “the impact on employment in the City” nor Lakewood’s share of responsibility for maintaining acute care services in the community. Reasons for Lakewood Hospitals’s decline in patient volume receive a cursory examination, as well.

Given this context, however, readers should be all the more concerned by problems that Huron identifies with the management of Lakewood Hospital and proposals for its future.

Huron’s review of the search for alternative hospital partners is particularly troubling. From page 43: “It is our understanding that a release from Cleveland Clinic regarding potential tortious interference claims was not obtained upon the initial marketing of the Hospital. We would generally not conduct a sales process in such a circumstance without first obtaining a release (or permission) from the company managing or operating the hospital. [Emphasis added] It is not known if the lack of such a release impacted interest among potential buyers.”

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Highest and Best Use

The coming days may be particularly important to demonstrate, to city council, support for keeping Lakewood Hospital open. Messages to members David Anderson (ward 1), Sam O’Leary (ward 2) and Cindy Marx (at large) are especially encouraged.

Save Lakewood Hospital president Marguerite Harkness has recently offered these comments to city council:

Hello Councilpersons,

The highest and best use of the hospital site is a fully-functioning inpatient hospital, with expanded outpatient facilities and services. (This includes the professional building, the south garage, and the auxiliary health building.)

Please keep in mind:

  • Lakewood’s population is declining moderately; we don’t need more housing.
  • Lakewood has loads of empty storefronts; we don’t need more retail space.
  • Lakewood restaurants are coming . . . and GOING; we don’t need more bars and restaurants.
  • Lakewood Center North is half empty; we don’t need more office space.

Fairview Hospital is JAMMED with Lakewood residents being sent there for medical services; what we NEED in Lakewood is a fully-functioning inpatient hospital.

And if we lose the 1100 jobs (over 1600 W-2’s which means actual people), we REALLY won’t need more housing, more retail space, more bars, or more office space.

Please know that physicians are eyeing our situation, and our efforts to preserve and create a fully-functioning hospital with independent physicians who can practice medicine and take care of their patients, HERE, in Lakewood.

They KNOW we will succeed, and they are actually making bold financial decisions that will be part of the solution that saves and expands our hospital.

There are over 1,000 independent physicians from Brooklyn to Rocky River, in about a dozen practices.  There is no shortage of medical staff to work here.

Thank you,

Huron Consulting report, other news

Huron Consulting, commissioned by the city to study Lakewood Hospital, has completed its final report. Certain of its observations have generated much discussion, among them:

Huron’s John Bodine spoke to city council about the findings on Monday. As reported at cleveland.com, Dr. George Khuri, a physician at Lakewood Hospital and a board member of Premier Physicians stated that the group of independent physicians is “more committed than ever to Lakewood Hospital and the city of Lakewood.” Look for more analysis and responses to the Huron report in the days ahead.

In the meantime…Read More

What’s going on this summer

There is no summer vacation from the work to save Lakewood Hospital. Here’s a little of what’s going on as July gets rolling:

  • City Council President Mary Louise Madigan has decided against seeking re-election. With Eric Deamer also exiting the race, it looks almost inevitable that Ward Four will be represented by Dan O’Malley, who told NEOMG’s correspondent that “he strongly believes some sort of hospital with inpatient beds should remain in the city.”
  • The lawsuit filed by Chris DeVito and other supporters of Save Lakewood Hospital is making its way to trial in a relatively brisk fashion. At this stage, little formal media coverage is likely, but judging by recent documentary investigation posted at the Lakewood Observer forum, shining a light on the full history of the Letter Of Intent may reveal quite a lot.
  • Lakewood’s weather forecast for July 4, 2015 looks gorgeous. Please join us for the parade; participants will gather from 9 a.m. and the parade begins at 10.

Skindell runs for mayor, other news

State Senator Michael Skindell announced this week that he is running for Mayor of Lakewood, and making the preservation of Lakewood Hospital central to his campaign. Skindell will challenge incumbent mayor Michael Summers, who has advocated a Cleveland Clinic proposal to replace the hospital with a much smaller health center.

Criticizing Summers’s approach as secretive and exclusionary, Skindell said that “Public office is a public trust. The present Mayor has repeatedly violated that trust by attempting to close Lakewood Hospital, which is viable and which I pledge to keep open. …I am pleased to join with our citizens who are fighting for Lakewood by fighting against the closure of Lakewood Hospital.”

Meanwhile, City Council has selected Huron Consulting Services to review the assertions for and against the Cleveland Clinic proposal. City law director Kevin Butler announced the choice earlier this week at a city council meeting, which also heard arguments from Tom Monahan and other voices from Save Lakewood Hospital.

Metrohealth, other updates

The CEO of Metrohealth has replied to a letter from Lakewood’s mayor, declining to commence any new proposal for Lakewood Hospital. As reported at cleveland.com, Mayor Summers has since assured Metrohealth that contrary to its objection, Lakewood is “not bound to any agreement with the Cleveland Clinic regarding the future of Lakewood Hospital.”

Lakewood city council has recently joined the back-and-forth, seeking a more direct conversation. Council vice president Ryan Nowlin has asked Metrohealth’s CEO to meet council in person; any response remains unknown at present.

Meanwhile, council has taken other steps away from the Cleveland Clinic letter of intent. Council has solicited proposals from consultants to investigate most of the arguments advanced by the Clinic, and by the consulting firm Subsidium which presented its own findings earlier this year.

Finally, attorney Chris DeVito (who challenged the city of Lakewood to take Cleveland Clinic to court, in April) will announce further news this Thursday, May 28. Save Lakewood Hospital supporters are invited to meet at the corner of Belle and Detroit avenues at 11 a.m.

Excellent rally turnout at City Hall

Thank you to everyone who helped with Save Lakewood Hospital’s rally Monday evening. An energetic crowd of young and old stretched from one corner of Lakewood City Hall’s block to the other, reminding city council that the community will be heard on our hospital’s future.

Several speakers also addressed the rally, including Michelle Mahon of National Nurses United, State Senator Mike Skindell, and multiple Lakewood residents testifying to how important Lakewood Hospital has been in their lives.

Following the rally, Save Lakewood Hospital Chair Marguerite Harkness led a delegation presenting city council with well over 2,000 signatures calling for Lakewood Hospital to remain open.

Senator Skindell has posted some photos to Twitter. Local media turned out for the rally as well; cleveland.com has posted a story (with video). Check back for more updates.

Cleveland Clinic shies from commitment

The Cleveland Clinic has claimed an ongoing “commitment to Lakewood,” despite its campaign to escape its lease agreement and demolish the city’s hospital. Commitment, however, seemed to be the most elusive quantity when Clinic representatives addressed city council Thursday night.

As reported at cleveland.com,

Councilwoman Cindy Marx asked if Cleveland Clinic officials would guarantee Lakewood Hospital employees jobs elsewhere if the local hospital closed. [Clinic chief of regional hospitals Brian] Donley said the clinic looks to provide every employee in good standing who wants a job with a job somewhere in the Cleveland Clinic system or with a partner. However, after the meeting, he said that while the Clinic would make every effort to place every employee, he would not use the word “guarantee.”

Meanwhile, Clinic representatives boasted of how their proposed family health center would offer residents more services than Lakewood Hospital (from which the Clinic has been eliminating services). Despite which, “Clinic officials could not [specify] which specialties would be available at the Lakewood facility. That is yet to be determined.”

Read More

Closing Lakewood Hospital may cost $300 million/year

On Monday, Save Lakewood Hospital chair Marguerite Harkness presented city council with a troubling warning about the economic impact of eliminating the city’s hospital.

Save Lakewood Hospital’s research and finance committees calculate that the hospital contributes more than $294 million to Lakewood, annually, far in excess of the city’s own estimates. Harkness modeled her report on an economic impact report prepared by the Iowa Hospital Association.

Harkness’s appearance has been reported by cleveland.com, here. Her complete presentation to council follows.

Author’s note: “As is typical, Council generously granted me only 3 minutes at the end of the meeting and cut me off mid-sentence. How are they going to learn about other options for saving the hospital, if they don’t allow educated citizens to present information to them?”Read More

Skindell to Council: hospital is still very viable

State Senator Michael Skindell recently addressed Lakewood City Council about Lakewood Hospital’s future; cleveland.com has coverage here, and the Senator’s office has issued the following news release:

Senator Skindell Says There Is No Need to Close Lakewood Hospital

Calls on City Council to take immediate action to keep the facility open

Columbus – State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) is calling on Lakewood City Council to reject plans to close Lakewood Hospital in 2016.  Speaking at a city council meeting last night, Senator Skindell said there was no need to close Lakewood Hospital and called the closure plans misguided.

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Anderson: city should hire our own consultant

Cleveland.com reports today that “City councilman David Anderson wants [Lakewood city] council to consider hiring a health care consultant to help decide whether to approve a controversial plan to close and demolish the city-owned hospital.”

Writes Bruce Geiselman, “Anderson told council colleagues the city and residents would benefit from its own advice on what is in the best interests of residents, rather than relying on information from a hospital-hired consultant.”

Following Councilman O’Leary’s recent call for study of the economic consequences of closing Lakewood Hospital, this is encouraging news. The Cleveland Clinic plan, which requires approval by our city council, is not a done deal. Let members of council know that you support proper investigation of all options for our hospital, rather than just rubber-stamping the Clinic’s letter of intent.

Read More