Lakewood Residents Threaten To Sue Over Hospital's Closure

Lakewood residents Anne Allen, right, Marie Birsic, left, protest the hospital's closure.
Lakewood residents protest the hospital's closure.
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City leaders along with the hospital's operator, the Cleveland Clinic, announced plans in January to turn the 100-year-old hospital into an outpatient center.

But the proposal hasn't set well with many in the community.

Since the announcement in January, hours of community meetings and council deliberations have taken place. The Cleveland Clinic’s lease on the facility doesn’t expire for another 11 years.  And residents want the city to force the Clinic to continue operating until then. 

Still, residents are not satsified. On Tuesday, as cars passed by honking support, a few dozen Lakewood residents gathered on a grassy spot in front of the hospital.

They held signs demanding to "Save The Hospital."  Attorney Christopher DeVito spoke for the group.

"What we are doing is asking the law director to enforce the rights to protect the valuable asset, which is the lease agreement to have the Clinic run the hospital, maintain the hospital and not waste the asset," DeVito says.

The Clinic has said the hospital has been losing money much of the past decade.  And residents can use Fairview or the new Avon hospital for inpatient care. 

Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers declined to comment directly on today's actions.

"My sense is Lakewood is engaged in a community discussion about the future of health care delivery," Summers said when reached by phone, adding that he has a "hard time understanding why they would want to close off discussion" with a lawsuit.

The Clinic responded via e-mail with a statement, saying it "was asked to submit a proposal that would transform the way care is provided for residents in the City of Lakewood that is sustainable for the long-term."

The Clinic's statement also noted that it is continuing to follow the contract and its committment to the community "remains strong."

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