I’ve seen quite a few opinions voiced on Facebook about the purchase of Union Hospital by Cleveland Clinic and, for what it’s worth, I thought I’d offer my own observation.
Union Hospital is a jewel in our community. Employing 1,100 people, it is not only a viable and necessary medical facility, but an economic driver. Its independence has served its community well over the decades, expanding into necessary areas (such as building a state of the art trauma center) and abandoning services that other facilities are better equipped to provide.
Make no mistake that an independent medical facility, managed locally by your neighbors, that can meet expenses and save for the future is the best option for this community. Sadly, the demographics of our community – an increasing number of Medicare and Medicaid patients – don’t help the bottom line.
Enter the Cleveland Clinic.
Personally, I am owing to both facilities. If competent medical personnel weren’t employed locally at Union and for sure at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. We can be sure of this: Things going forward will be different and some of that will be good and some will be bad.
I’m told from an independent source that the Clinic is very agreeable to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for its facilities. That will help Union keep pace with advancement. Time will tell what happens to the 100 beds inside Union.
And at the same time, say goodbye to local control. Your neighbors might serve on a board, but their input will be weighed accordingly.
Meanwhile, all 1,100 employees will answer to Cleveland. While most employees might applaud the sale, it’s my guess Union-employed doctors probably are not jumping up and down over the prospect of answering to what will be a far more authoritarian Cleveland Clinic.
The Times-Reporter used the word “partner” in an editorial rather than “new owner” in describing the Union-Cleveland Clinic relationship. It’s a lot like what’s happening in the newspaper business when small, community newspapers are gobbled up by big publishing conglomerates. Smart corporate types will use the word “partner” in the initial news release. But don’t believe it.
Cleveland Clinic outbid other healthcare providers, including, according to sources, Canton’s Aultman Hospital and Cleveland’s University Hospital systems. Both are quality alternatives. I think it’s safe to assume that the Clinic’s offer was financially the best one.
What happens to the proceeds?
Well, this is where it gets dicey. The proceeds from the sale, minus obligations that Cleveland Clinic will be forced to assume, will be deposited into a charitable foundation. Many details, such as who will serve as a stewards of that money and the goals of such a foundation, are sketchy and are probably among the details to be worked out in coming months.
Personally, the Clinic’s purchase is good news for me. My health care is dictated by the folks in J Building on the Clinic’s main campus, but I have visited a number of Clinic satellite facilities, including a former Akron General one in Green, for lab work. With Union a part of the system, it will make my life easier and my digital record more accurate. (Yeah, I pay attention to the numbers.)
In my visits to the Clinic’s Green facility over a period of a couple of weeks recently, the large “Akron General Hospital” signs were downsized and replaced by larger “Cleveland Clinic” ones. I think you can bet on Union’s “UH” signage to become much smaller in the coming months and for “Cleveland Clinic” to assume space on the side of the building on the Boulevard.
And that, folks, will signal an end to an era.