Mayor Summers Updates Residents About Lakewood HospitalJune 26, 2015
The following letter from Mayor Michael Summers about Lakewood Hospital was sent out in Lakewood residents’ water bills in three phases this month.
“The future of Lakewood Hospital is a complex issue that deserves a thoughtful discussion,” said Mayor Summers. “We want our residents to have these facts so they can make an informed opinion. Fortunately, sharing this information in the water bill is among our many avenues — and a cost-effective one — to communicate with the public.”
Dear Citizens of Lakewood,
It is important to continue our open and thoughtful discussions regarding the future of Lakewood Hospital and healthcare in the city of Lakewood. Healthcare is changing around the country and equally so in the Cleveland area. We need to be ready for the next century. Managed change is better than unmanaged change.
Right now we have before us a proposal from the Cleveland Clinic and Lakewood Hospital Association (LHA) with the following basic attributes:
The Clinic will build a new $34 million state-of-the art family health center in Lakewood which will include:
• A 24/7 state-of-the-art emergency room
• Primary care, starting with 16 primary care physicians moving their practice to Lakewood
• Robust medical services, including:
- Cardiac & Pulmonary Testing
- Radiology, MRI & CAT, Lab Services
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Women’s Health
- Diabetes Care
- Musculoskeletal Care
- Behavioral Health
- Cardiac Care
- Digestive Diseases
- Chronic Disease Clinics
- Mobile Stroke Unit
- A new $32 million wellness foundation would be created, to be operated by Lakewood residents for Lakewood resident healthcare needs. (What is a wellness foundation? Think of this as Lakewood’s own Cleveland Foundation with the sole focus on our health and wellness.)
- This proposal does not include overnight medical beds or outpatient surgery. As with other free-standing emergency rooms, patients will be transferred when needed to nearby hospitals, such as Fairview Hospital, which is just 3.2 miles away.
- Funding for this proposal would come from LHA and the Cleveland Clinic. No tax dollars would be used for these proposed changes and improvements.
Many of us wish Lakewood Hospital could continue to operate and exist as it did 15 to 20 years ago. Like me, you’ve used Lakewood Hospital at critical points in your lives – we were born there, had major surgeries there, received emergency care there and visited loved ones and friends who were receiving critical care there. Our hats are off to the excellent, trusted staff who have taken care of us each step along the way. Unfortunately, the existing Lakewood Hospital facility is no longer operationally and financially sustainable in its current form.
Lakewood’s situation is unique because while the city of Lakewood owns the hospital building and land, we do not operate the hospital and have not operated it since 1987. The citizens of Lakewood have not invested any tax dollars in our hospital since then, when over 70 percent of our residents voted to place this responsibility with the LHA, a private, nonprofit corporation. In conjunction with LHA, the Cleveland Clinic currently operates the hospital and has done so since 1996.
In 2012, it became apparent to trustees of LHA that the future for Lakewood Hospital was going to hold many financial challenges. As a result, LHA carried out a thorough, two-year deliberative process to review the long-term financial viability of Lakewood Hospital. The hospital trustees had two primary objectives: first, serve the healthcare needs of the citizens of Lakewood, and second, ensure that this healthcare system is financially viable. A wide range of options was explored, including who would be the best long-term partner. The easiest approach would have been to allow Lakewood Hospital to run its course and continue with declining patient volumes and profitability as long as possible. Instead LHA chose to be proactive and look at what was best for Lakewood for the next 30 to 50 years and not just until 2026, the end of the lease involving the Cleveland Clinic.
When LHA began looking to the future and who potential healthcare partners might be, they sought the help from a nationally regarded consulting firm specializing in healthcare. LHA sought proposals from hospital systems in the greater Cleveland area and from around the country. Only one party, the Cleveland Clinic, submitted a comprehensive proposal. MetroHealth also submitted a proposal in 2014, withdrew it, and recently confirmed with the city, that they would not be submitting a new proposal for the operation of Lakewood Hospital. Some citizens have felt that the LHA process was done in a secretive manner. LHA and the city of Lakewood have conducted an open process and have sought the involvement of citizens as soon as it was practically possible, but most importantly prior to any binding contract. Over the last five months, there have been a series of community forums and many Lakewood City Council meetings and committee meetings — more than 30 altogether — which have been open to all citizens and are always well attended.
One way or another, change is upon us so I encourage you to be open to the exciting healthcare possibilities available for Lakewood.
So where are we today? Currently, Lakewood City Council is in the middle of its process to analyze and evaluate the proposal before it. Council has hired a law firm and a financial consultant to help us determine the right course to take. The city may explore additional options or proceed with the negotiation of an agreement with the Cleveland Clinic and Lakewood Hospital Association trustees.
Please support the work of the Lakewood City Council as they continue to deliberate on the future of healthcare for our community.
Michael P. Summers
For information, data, and resources visit onelakewood.com/wellness.