City Officials Set Course for Decline
In Lakewood, there are signs of a city on the rise. Property values are up, city parks are beautiful and trendy new restaurants are opening. Hanging over this positive trend is a a plan for a city in decline: the plan that closed Lakewood Hospital. Oddly enough, it was designed and advocated by city officials. As court documents and public records requests bring more and more disturbing facts behind the closure to light, citizens can’t help wondering if city officials are careless or flat-out corrupt. More and more citizens plan on voting against the ordinance in the upcoming November election.
Here are some of the facts that, more and more, reveal a process as bad as the deal.
- An offer from MetroHealth to operate Lakewood’s hospital was hidden from voters. It was only after public records request were made that it was uncovered.
- Revelations of improper bid-steering, that gave The Cleveland Clinic an inside track to build a much smaller “Family Health Center” and abandon the hospital, while blocking all competitive operators who could have kept the hospital open.
- In a move that limits health care options and increases prices for Lakewood residents, city officials negotiated a restrictive covenant, keeping other health care operators out of the now empty Lakewood Hospital while the Clinic operates its “Family Health Center” across the street.
- With 10 years left on the lease, Lakewood released the Clinic of its obligation to operate the hospital, effectively torpedoing over one thousand jobs averaging $59,000 a year. What community leader would close a city’s largest employer? It defies rational explanation.
- Why did public servants allow the Clinic to mismanage the hospital and strip it of profitable, life-saving services.
Many people assumed that the closing of Lakewood Hospital had to do with national trend towards centralized health care. But time and investigation is proving that this is not the case. The city’s hospital has been closed by city officials, whose interest in pleasing the Clinic has for suspicious reason taken priority over the interests of the citizens they are pledged to represent.
As the vote to overturn the ordinance that closed the hospital looms in November’s election, determination to reassert the people’s role in keeping Lakewood strong is growing.