Lakewood Hospital to transition to an outpatient facility

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LAKEWOOD, Ohio - Citing changing patient needs, the Cleveland Clinic revealed plans Thursday to close and eventually demolish the full-service, inpatient Lakewood Hospital.

It will be replaced by a $34 million, 62,000 square foot family health center providing outpatient care, along with a 24 hour emergency room.

Officials said the change will happen in several phases over the coming years, and Lakewood Hospital will remain fully operational until the new Avon Hospital opens in September 2016. Inpatient care will then transfer to Avon.

Hospital administrators said Lakewood Hospital has been operating at a loss since 2005, down more than $20 million in that time. With a shift toward wellness and preventive care, inpatient care demand has fallen and beds were half full last year, said Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove.

"These have been challenging years for the hospital," said Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers, who is also a trustee for the Lakewood Hospital Association. "It's pretty clear the old model isn't working for us, A new model needs to be delivered to Lakewood."

1,018 employees at Lakewood hospital will be able to retain jobs within local health systems, Cosgrove said. Summers estimated between 200 and 300 people will work at the new facility.

"It is our priority to retain these employees during the transition and to provide every Lakewood Hospital employee with a job within our system or partnering organizations if they choose to do so," Cosgrove said.

The Clinic said it's making a $120 million investment in Lakewood when costs to transition and build the new facility are added to $32 million that will create a foundation to benefit health and wellness of Lakewood residents. Summers said studies have shown a greater need for outpatient care among residents.

The City of Lakewood expects to lose $1.5 million in annual rent and income tax revenue beginning in 2017. However, the city will receive an $8.2 million payout from the Lakewood Hospital Association and will take management of a neighboring city-owned medical office, health center and parking garage. The city also hopes to receive proceeds from the sale of additional acreage created by construction of the new facility and may enter into a 5-year shared tax revenue agreement with Avon.

"We keep a pretty tight belt here and it's going to have to get a little tighter," Summers said regarding the loss of annual revenue and jobs.

Some Lakewood Hospital employees heard rumors of the changes.

"I'm angry," said Lakewood resident Ruth Higgins, who worked as a nurse at the hospital for nearly 30 years before retiring. "I think it's very sad, I think it's a loss to the citizens of Lakewood, and I think most of them were never aware it was happening."

Higgins said she watched as the Clinic slowly relocated services and feels Lakewood residents will pay a price. The next-closest hospital, Fairview Hospital, is 3.3 miles away.

The proposal still needs approval from Lakewood City Council, with a series of public forums to begin January 28 at the Beck Center. Officials said it could be Fall before ground is broken.

 

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