ERIC SANDY / SCENE
Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks publicly about the proposal to shutter Lakewood Hospital.
The struggle to save Lakewood Hospital picked up a high-profile supporter in former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who stood outside the hospital this morning and urged City Council to intervene legally on behalf of city residents.
In January, Mayor Mike Summers announced the Cleveland Clinic's plan to close and demolish the hospital
and open a family health center on the site. Since then, the city has grown divided over the future of the hospital — and over a perceived lack of public accounting for the Clinic's past actions.
Amid the discovery process in a civil lawsuit filed by five Lakewood residents (Case No. CV-15-846212 in Cuyahoga County court), documents have been made public that outline a "master plan" to "decant" services from Lakewood Hospital to other, wholly owned Clinic sites (like nearby Fairview Hospital).
"Based on documentation only recently produced through the lawsuit, from 2007 to 2012 the Clinic and its steering committee shockingly plotted a secret plan, which, if implemented, would dismantle and demolish the same Lakewood Hospital," Kucinich said.
Councilman Tom Bullock, a member of the Lakewood Hospital Association and the most outspoken city representative in the past eight months, insisted that Kucinich's remarks were based on inaccurate readings of the court documents. "Kucinich has no credibility on this issue. He's absolutely wrong about the facts on Lakewood Hospital," Bullock said.
When asked if he knew of anything revealed in the court documents to be false, Bullock replied that he did not. "I don't think that the court document is what's relevant here," he said. "Every single bit of evidence that Mr. Kucinich raised today we are considering. I'm sorry to say that his interpretation is inaccurate."
City Council has the final say on any deal to close or alter Lakewood Hospital as an in-patient facility. Five votes are required, and, to date, council has been unable to meet that threshold. Three of the seven council members are known to be openly questioning the Clinic proposal.
The press conference came three days after a motion was filed in court urging an emergency order to compel the Clinic to produce more documents pertaining to the decanting process. The motion discusses a long-running and alleged cover-up on the part of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the Lakewood Hospital Association, one which involves concealing records that are germane to the "master plan" timeline (i.e. were Clinic officials secretly plotting the dismantling of Lakewood Hospital even as they assured City Council of the hospital's long-term viability?).