Lakewood City Council Introduces Agreement Between Cleveland Clinic, Lakewood Hospital Association


Lakewood City Council introduced an ordinance Monday night that would close Lakewood Hospital in nearly the same methodical process first forecasted back in January. The measure is expected to be voted upon Dec. 21.

Read the ordinance and a trimmed-down version of the master agreement below. 

In brief, the agreement would "wind down" hospital operations until an early 2016 closure. An emergency department would remain open at the hospital itself until the Clinic's proposed "family health center," which includes its own emergency department, opens sometime in 2018. A wellness foundation will be set up with annual payments from the Clinic of $500,000, which can be used "at the foundation's discretion," though the Clinic will maintain rights of first refusal of foundation partners. Additionally, 5.7 acres of primo Lakewood land will be available for redevelopment. 

The bottom line remains: There would be no inpatient hospital in Lakewood.

Lakewood Hospital Association trustee Bill Gorton led off the public comment portion of last night's meeting by declaring the master agreement "better" than the original Clinic proposal and lauding the diligence of all involved parties. He spent the rest of the meeting either perusing his phone or actually blowing raspberries and chuckling during Lakewood residents' comments. (One man eventually turned around and asked, "Can you please stop? Seriously.")

From there, about a dozen Lakewood residents spoke — unanimously against the Clinic deal — and urged council members to reconsider the seemingly headlong sprint toward ratifying this agreement. 

Many residents pointed out that a Tennessee health care firm maintains an interest in the Lakewood Hospital properties — both via a specific proposal for the Westlake Medical Campus and an unspecified interest with the main campus in Lakewood. There is a company knocking on Lakewood's door with ideas about how to keep a functioning hospital in Lakewood; the city line is that there's no interest in those talks. (Surgical Development Partners was not represented at last night's meeting.)

"Let the patient dedication that was evident in May continue" one man urged, referring to the yearlong process of public discussions about health care and pointing out that some good may come from vetting additional proposals.

No dice, it would seem.

Toward the end of the hospital-related portion of the meeting, City Councilman Tom Bullock read a statement in support of the measure and in favor of a new model of health care in Lakewood. It was a surreal moment, as Save Lakewood Hospital members began rising from their seats in protest and walking out of the room. Bullock continued on, reading his thoughts quietly, while the room slowly emptied. 

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