Nov. 8, 2016: Vote AGAINST Issue 64

Tuesday, November 8 is decision-day for Lakewood. Please vote against Issue 64!

Key points to remember:

Issue 64 is a vote on the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital. If you disapprove of the deal that closed our publicly owned hospital, vote against 64.

We deserve a better deal. The people of Lakewood owned 100% of our hospital and its assets, and the hospital employed almost 1,100 people. Ending up with a health center that someone else owns, and which will employ fewer than 200, is obviously not investment or progress.

Issue 64 includes no plan to replace lost jobs and tax revenues, or to redevelop the hospital property. In fact a noncompete clause will block other hospital systems from ever introducing competing services on that property.

Issue 64 means bare-bones healthcare in Lakewood, and needed emergency care left in question. Most serious emergencies require hospital facilities to treat; health centers and ambulance rides are not substitutes. That’s why Ohio Nurses opposes Issue 64. That’s why Avon is opening a new hospital, not an urgent-care office.

Lakewood can do better. Issue 64 doesn’t guarantee anything to Lakewood, even basic 24/7 ER services. All it guarantees is the noncompete clause that keeps our options limited. The Cleveland Clinic negotiated this because the market for hospital services is competitive. By rejecting the noncompete clause we can benefit from competition and gain services, jobs and better pricing—we can hold an open bidding process for hospital assets, which officials have not done.

Example of Issue 64 on Nov. 2016 ballot
Please vote “Against the Ordinance” on Issue 64

Broken Promise of “Quality Healthcare” Exposed in Poignant Interview

For Immediate Release —

As Lakewood citizens stand poised to reject the ordinance that closed their community owned hospital, stories of sub-standard care at Lakewood’s “freestanding emergency department,” costly transfers from the “ED” to other hospitals, and overcrowding at Fairview Hospital, are mounting.

The promises of “Quality Health Care” by city officials in the wake of the hospital’s closing are clearly questionable, in the minds of many Lakewood voters.

Dan and Trish Defabbo of Lakewood know firsthand that this promise of “Quality Healthcare” is nothing more than another campaign slogan pitched by politicians.

In this video, the Defabbos chronicle what happened when Mr. Defabbo had a dangerously high fever and needed emergency care. At 70 years old, Mr, Defabbo had survived triple bypass surgery earlier in his life. As he was shuffled from Lakewood to Fairview in his latest health emergency, he and his wife wondered if he would survive the added stress that Lakewood’s now broken healthcare reality had brought them.

A majority vote against Issue 64 in Tuesday’s election will reject the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital, and restore Lakewood’s rights to over $100 million in cash and hospital assets. Many in Lakewood are coming to the realization that their “emergency department” is little more than an urgent care center at a much higher price.

For interviews with the Defabbos as well as other questions and comments, our contact information is below.

For a related story about a stroke victim’s delayed treatment that may have seriously comprised recovery, follow this link.

Download this story as a Microsoft Word file.

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital

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.

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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.

The Cleveland Clinic Way in Lakewood

Cleveland Clinic magnet
If your magnet has different text, it is probably a misprint.

The Cleveland Clinic has mailed a postcard to Lakewood residents, digging in on misleading claims about its freestanding emergency department. No one should be fooled; the claim that Clinic physicians “skillfully treat… cardiac arrest and stroke” is still carefully separated from any promise that they do so in Lakewood. The don’t, and no one should turn to Lakewood’s ER for anything other than delays in real treatment for these conditions.

Meanwhile, this glossy advertisement makes another promise, less directly dangerous but even more plainly false: “In Lakewood. For Lakewood.” Really?

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Lakewood needs a better deal, not a PR blitz

Lakewood citizens continue to fight back against the big bluff, i.e. that losing a hospital is just fine and nothing to worry about.

On June 20, activists successfully challenged a staged PR event at City Hall, drawing attention to the fact that doctors not employed by the Cleveland Clinic warn of serious risks when hospital facilities are removed from an ER.

Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakewood keeps fighting
Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakewood keeps fighting

As part of an ongoing PR campaign, Dr. Judith Welsh of the Cleveland Clinic appeared before City Council to claim that Lakewood’s “freestanding” emergency department maintains the same level of service as it did before the Clinic extracted the assets of community-owned Lakewood Hospital.

Confirming that this was simply another misleading commercial, rather than an honest discussion, “Welsh did not remain after her presentation to answer questions from the audience” as reports. That audience included an experienced, independent cardiologist:

Dr. Terence Kilroy, a Lakewood pulmonologist who is not a Clinic employee, raised questions about how paramedics determine whether a patient should be taken to the Lakewood emergency department or an emergency department with an attached hospital. He also said the Cleveland Clinic in the past has not communicated with him about his patients when they were brought in through the Lakewood emergency department.

Thanks to the efforts of Save Lakewood Hospital and other concerned citizens, the people of Lakewood will approach this November’s referendum able to make their own choice, independently.

(For more photos from June 20, see this gallery at the Lakewood Observer.)

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.

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.”

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 (, and embattled city officials are sure to face more impassioned addresses like this one from the last council meeting:   Further reference for Lakewood’s ER shortcomings can be found on our website at

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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Why a hospital still matters & other news

The latest issue of The Lakewood Observer includes a number of informative articles about Lakewood Hospital.

“Emergency Room? …It’s Complicated” presents an in-depth, objective examination of what’s left in Lakewood with our hospital currently closed, and whether the remaining emergency services can deliver on the reassurances of city officials.

In “Empty Chair Versus a New Shiny Building,” Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young draws on both his own personal experience and the professional judgment of Dr. Terry Kilroy, to argue that the absence of hospital services will cost real people the most priceless thing any of us possesses.

Mr. Brian Essi continues to report on slowly released public documents related to the campaign against Lakewood Hospital. E-mails from city officials corroborate the recently published testimony of Mayor Mike Summers that “charity funds were expended from the Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) to influence the election last November.” Essi’s update follows another report published earlier this month.

Elsewhere in the news, meanwhile, this slide show at comes surprisingly close to recognizing that there is a pattern to the Cleveland Clinic’s activity—one not favorable to older, less affluent communities. (Including Cleveland.)

Close-by health care becomes more important

Lakewood’s emergency personnel have already testified to the extra challenges that will result if Lakewood Hospital is lost. For neighbors in Cleveland who have also depended on Lakewood Hospital, however, the value of having a genuine hospital close by is even greater.

A Fox 8 report has advised Clevelanders that:

Next time you see a Cleveland ambulance rushing to a call, notice the crew will likely not be breaking the speed limit, even if that’s 25 mph. The Fox 8 I-Team has obtained a city ambulance policy that says, “The driver shall never exceed the posted speed limit.” The I-Team investigated after hearing a Cleveland EMS crew got in trouble with bosses for answering a call and speeding. Internal documents show that crew went 47 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Firefighters on Lakewood Hospital

The following commentary by members of Lakewood Fire Department was produced independently, prior to being brought to the attention of Save Lakewood Hospital. The original video was temporarily deleted several hours after coming to public notice; it is currently online again, though only available for viewing at the hosting site vimeo. We strongly recommend its message to the widest audience possible.

LFD on Lakewood Hospital Closing from Joe Finley on Vimeo.