LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- It appears the days of Lakewood Hospital are numbered, but a new, $34 million "Family Health Center" -- which will include an emergency department -- is set to open right across the street.
Attorneys representing the Cleveland Clinic, Lakewood Hospital Association and Lakewood City Council and Administration have worked throughout the weekend and into Monday to come to an agreement that will allow all the parties to move forward on an innovative plan to provide health care in Lakewood for generations to come.
A seemingly unified Lakewood City Council unveiled the plan at a surprise announcement Monday night inside Lakewood City Hall.
"Lakewood Hospital will close as an inpatient hospital," said Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers.
But if council approves the measure after two more readings to the public, on Dec.14 and Dec. 21, the wheels will formally be in motion between all three parties.
The plan calls for the Family Health Center to be constructed across the street from the current hospital. It would take over an existing parking garage and professional building on the southwest corner of Belle Avenue and Detroit Road.
The clinic will pay for the construction of the $34 million facility, the closing fees associated with mothballing the hospital and $7 million to the city to either demolish or renovate the hospital site.
Critics showed up to Lakewood City Hall to announce displeasure at the secrecy they say has been in play and the harm it will do to the community.
"I view this as a disaster," said hospital supporter Brian Essi. "Economically for the city and for the underserved surrounding communities...they will all suffer."
In front of council, Dean Dilzell, who is a supporter of the hospital, said, "I want you to think really carefully about what is world class from what we are receiving tonight from the Cleveland Clinic."
The City of Lakewood released a statement Monday evening:
"After nearly one year of fact gathering, feedback from the public, a general election, and negotiations between the City, Lakewood Hospital Association and the Cleveland Clinic, Lakewood City Council will consider a new master agreement designed to ensure the availability of high-quality health care in the city of Lakewood."
"City Council will consider the agreement during three public readings, commencing at its December 7 meeting. Since the agreement involves real estate transactions, Council's approval is required before elements of the agreement can be launched."
"The agreement involves a multi-million dollar investment in Lakewood that transitions health care delivery from a 'sick care' hospital inpatient model to an innovative, contemporary and sustainable outpatient health and wellness approach. Along with a 24/7/365 emergency department, the health care needs of the Lakewood community will be met."
" 'We've done our homework,' said Mary Louise Madigan, president of Lakewood City Council. 'We've gathered all the facts. We've heard from the residents we represent. Council was given the opportunity and responsibility to make the best decision possible to ensure the health of our community today and for generations to come. We are ready to make our recommendation and explain to the public why we support this agreement.' "
There are some key highlights of the new agreement that Council will consider:
- More personalized, responsive care and services for residents based on comprehensive research into community health needs.
- Location of a modern family health center that creates more value for the downtown district and increases economic development
- Continued access to emergency services in a fully staffed emergency department open 24/7/365
- Creates a unique community health foundation forging a long-term partnership of elected officials, civic leaders, health care providers and others to ensure appropriate and innovative health services
- Holds health care providers accountable for effective programs that improve patient outcomes
- More flexibility in the use of community assets, with increased opportunity to develop city-owned property
- The promise of a vibrant new downtown district to attract employers
- Meets the special needs of the community's diverse population
- Reassurances for current employees of Lakewood Hospital
" 'It is our hope to have an agreement in place by the end of 2015, so that we can launch innovative programs and services in 2016," noted Council President Madigan. 'Our first priority is to ensure that key health care needs of our residents are met. That's why the assurance of continued emergency services in a 24/7/365 emergency department is so important. Of course, there will be a transition period during which a number of services will be phased out. We can look forward to the future delivery of services in new and different ways. What's most exciting about this is the opportunity to create a community health foundation that can create a vision for health care that is unique to this community. That could involve grants, research, advocacy and support of health and wellness services that will make Lakewood one of the healthiest cities in the nation.' "
The plan to create a new health and wellness campus, first announced in January 2015, was reached after an extensive evaluation process. Lakewood Hospital Association trustees worked with consultants and conducted a Request for Proposal (RFP) from healthcare providers both nationally and locally. In addition, the plan reflects a community health needs assessment, a review of the hospital's aging facilities (some of which are nearly 100 years old), the continued decline in inpatient volumes and the dramatic shift in the way healthcare is delivered throughout the country."