Plan to close Ohio hospital gets go-ahead after 11 months of debate

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In Ohio, the Lakewood City Council has voted unanimously to close Lakewood Hospital and replace it with a Cleveland Clinic health center and 24-hour emergency department, according to a Cleveland.com report.

In January, Cleveland Clinic and city officials announced plans to close 263-bed Lakewood Hospital by 2016. That plan was met with strong opposition. In May, a group of community activists filed a lawsuit against Cleveland Clinic in an attempt to get the system to continue leasing Lakewood Hospital through 2026. However, the plan to close the facility moved forward, and Cleveland Clinic, the Lakewood Hospital Association and lawyers for the city reached a tentative agreement in early December to shutter the hospital and replace it with a family health center.

The agreement guarantees $32.4 million from the Lakewood Hospital Association and Cleveland Clinic will be used for a new community health foundation. Cleveland Clinic will pay its $8 million portion over 16 years, according to the report.  

With the city council's approval, the shutdown process could begin quickly, as the hospital's operating losses are more than $1 million monthly. Inpatient services will be phased out first, but the existing emergency room and certain outpatient services will continue to be offered at the hospital while the family health center is built.

A lawsuit seeking to block the hospital closure has been filed on behalf of Lakewood taxpayers. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2016.

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