Lakewood Hospital: Taking Sides

Taking sides is not easy. It is especially difficult when you respect and value people and opinions on the other side. In the case of Lakewood Hospital, it can be divisive. I have experienced this firsthand in recent weeks as I have talked and corresponded with friends and neighbors about the details and issues involved. Like me, many have taken the time to review available documents and attend or view community, council and opposition meetings. Others have taken a side based primarily on loyalty or rumors. While my quest for information is never satisfied, this has not stopped me from taking a side. Mostly in an effort to slow down the process, as it is apparent that things have run amok. The sign in my yard reads: SAVE LAKEWOOD HOSPITAL. Here’s why.

I am on the side of jobs, good paying, skilled jobs like most of the 1000+ at Lakewood Hospital. Our local economy depends on them. Despite the “exciting possibilities” the signers of a recent letter supporting Mayor Summers’ plan to demolish the hospital hope for, I prefer “a bird in the hand.” As of this writing, no known plans (past or current) hold the possibility of replacing anything like what Lakewood would lose in the way of jobs should the hospital close. Holding the Cleveland Clinic to their lease and restoring services would maintain jobs while allowing time for the development of a solid plan, one that better leverages our assets to minimize healthcare job loss and attracts new comparable wage jobs.

I am on the side of transparency. Our elected officials on the Lakewood Hospital Association board had an obligation to share information regarding the future of Lakewood Hospital long before an announcement of plans to close it was made in January. Had that happened, the remainder of council and citizens could have gotten involved earlier and we might be in a much better position than we are today. The recent missed opportunity to partner with the MetroHealth System to operate our hospital is a failure of leadership.  Perhaps it is time for a change.

I am on the side of health. That means traditional inpatient, outpatient, emergency and preventive services, alternative medicine and wellness practices.  While healthcare is constantly changing, the mayor would have residents believe that with access to recreational opportunities and healthy food we will have little use for anything more than the proposed needs assessment facility that will offer minimal care. However, the future of healthcare will continue to include the full spectrum of services mentioned as evidenced by those planned and available at other area facilities. Lakewood needs to get in on more than a fraction of the action to maintain and improve health.

I am on the side of local. Raising a family has expanded my heart but shrunk my world. With so much more activity, I find myself not leaving Lakewood (sometimes for weeks) in an effort to improve efficiency. Our seniors and economically disadvantaged residents especially benefit from proximity. Busy families welcome it. In the case of emergencies, ALL depend on it and it matters. Even the Cleveland Clinic agrees as stated in their prominent advertising, “…Close Counts.”

I am on the side of Lakewood Hospital.

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Volume 11, Issue 14, Posted 4:33 PM, 06.23.2015