Q: The hospital is already closed. Isn’t it a done deal?
A: The hospital facility still belongs to Lakewood, and the legislation that closed it will be on November’s ballot as Issue 64, for voters to approve or reject. Lakewood can reject it and instead pursue a genuine, open bidding process for new partners to operate our hospital.
Q: Didn’t we already vote on this last fall?
A: No. Last year’s election was to amend the city charter, not to close the hospital. Even if that Issue had passed, the public would still face a vote to approve a closing. (The Board of Elections assigns issue numbers to cities based on their names’ place in the alphabet, and Lakewood issues generally fall in a similar place; therefore the deal will appear on 2016’s ballot as Issue 64.)
Q: If we reject the deal it will cost us more?
A: No. A vote against 64 can improve our options by permitting market bidding for some or all hospital assets, but cannot impose additional costs. Lakewood can’t end up on the hook for debt, because the hospital was not in debt. The city would not have to run the hospital at a loss, either. Lakewood Hospital was never taxpayer-subsidized.
Q: I never used Lakewood Hospital. How does this affect me?
A: The hospital was a major economic engine for our city. It provided over 1,000 good jobs and generated $280 million in annual economic impact. Its loss will affect our city budget, leading to potential tax increases and/or reduced services.
Q: Why would any operator want to be in Lakewood? The hospital was losing money.
A: The hospital was profitable as late as 2014, three weeks before Mayor Summers declared it to be closing. Cleveland Clinic steered patients to other facilities in 2015, manufacturing financial losses. Lakewood is a desirable healthcare market.
Q: Didn’t the city hire a consultant to look for partners to run the hospital?
A: Multiple potential partners have surfaced, despite never being invited by the City. Officials improperly steered the bidding process, blocking viable operators from the process. Here is the Metro proposal that would have saved the hospital and which city officials buried until attorneys for the people unearthed it in legal proceedings.
Q: Why are people complaining? Fairview Hospital is only three miles away.
A: Fairview Hospital’s emergency room is already experiencing major overcrowding. They have also faced a shortage of inpatient beds in the few months since our hospital closed. These conditions will become even more serious in the face of a health crisis such as flu epidemic.
Q: How could Fairview’s emergency room be overcrowded? We still have an ER in Lakewood.
A: Our emergency room cannot handle serious (yet common) emergencies like bone fractures, heart attack, stroke, appendicitis, and more. The majority of these cases are being sent to Fairview, wasting critical time in transport and creating overcrowding at Fairview. Densely populated Lakewood is a viable market for a hospital.
Q: If voters, in November, reject the ordinance that closed the hospital, what then?
A: Better alternatives are ready and waiting for Lakewood; the next step is to go forward with:
- removal of restrictions on use of our hospital campus for medical services
- a qualified consultant to legitimately market our hospital to all potential partners
- a “right-sized” full-service community hospital and emergency room in Lakewood
- rejecting the release of liability for past conduct by those who failed to meet contractual obligations to maintain Lakewood Hospital
- obtaining fair compensation for the proposed medical office building site and other assets