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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lakewood Hospital to 'Transition' Into 'Wellness Campus'

City Will Lose In-Patient Services in 2016

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 10:41 AM

click to enlarge CLEVELAND CLINIC
  • Cleveland Clinic
Confirming rumors that have swirled around Lakewood for years, Mayor Michael Summers announced this morning that Lakewood Hospital would be "redesigned to fit community needs," i.e. "transitioned into a wellness campus," i.e., to be frank, Lakewood's 52,000 residents will lose a hospital and gain an outpatient facility. 

Here's Summers, though: "Rather than losing something, we are making sure residents will have services they need for the long term."

The hospital's in-patient visits in 2014 accounted for only 8 percent of its use, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove said. The hospital presently has 200 beds on-hand, though for the moment it's unclear whether there's an historic and correlating increase in in-patient services at other regional Clinic hospitals.

Cosgrove noted that heath care has been moving toward outpatient services overall, in general terms, and that the Lakewood Hospital news will come with a $120-million investment into the same. In-patient services and specializations once performed at Lakewood Hospital will follow the Clinic's overarching narrative and move toward outer-suburb facilities.

To wit, nothing will change at Lakewood Hospital until 2016, when a $100-million hospital will open alongside Avon's gleaming Richard E. Jacobs Health Center. This also coincides with several years of massive investment at nearby Fairview Hospital. 

Community members will have a hand in deciding what sort of services will  be offered at the new wellness campus. A meeting is set for Jan. 28 at the Beck Center. Based generally on online reaction to this morning's news, that meeting should be an illuminating one.

Scene spoke with independent doctors with offices inside Lakewood Hospital back in 2013. Some had reported being forced out of the building (essentially to accommodate this inevitable change). None would speak on the record when asked for interviews.

City Council members and Summers' administration has declined to speak on the hospital rumors for years. This was pretty much an open secret in Lakewood, though no one could say with certainty until this morning what the hospital's future would look like. The Lakewood Observer forced some information into more open conversation around town last month.

Lakewood has owned Lakewood Hospital's building for decades. The city signed an agreement with the Clinic in 1996 that runs through December 2026. A new agreement is expected to replace that one. More information is anticipated at the Jan. 20 City Council meeting.

In short, though, some $1 million in lease payments from the Clinic will dry up. An initial trade-off of $8.2 million in cash will offset that, per the mayor and Clinic officials. Sometime later this year, demolition of the hospital will begin and groundbreaking will occur for the new family health center/wellness campus on the property. Summers intimated that rezoning for "commercial development" will be sought, so by this point — if you doubted anything thus far — you pretty much know this is Lakewood City Hall we're dealing with.

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