A while ago I posted about the drama that the helipad at Medina Hospital was causing around town. I sent it in to The Medina Post, and they ran it as a letter to the editor. There were a couple of letters the next week regarding my post. Some agreed with me, some did not. I said my peace, though, and didn’t want to get into some sort of letter to the editor war like I was some caricature of an old man, like Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men, complaining and arguing every way I knew how. I had pretty much forgotten about the whole episode, until I got a comment of that blog post about the helipad telling me I was wrong. Now I’m interested, see? Someone actually spent long enough on Google to click on my link, read it, respect it enough not to just flame me in the comment, and actually respond like a human. I appreciate the discourse, and I hope there’s more. Here’s the comment that was left to me, and what follows is my response:
It isn’t just about the noise. There is a lot more than that and neighbors have been trying to tell the story but have been hushed up by Cleveland Clinic. This is about competition between hospitals, not saving lives. It is also a matter of safety and actually more time to get to critical facilities if you are not a heart attack or stroke victim. CCF is not the best or closest place to be transported in most cases and not everyone’s insurance will pay for CCF.
Ok, let me play devil’s advocate, starting with your last point. Not everyone’s insurance will pay for every hospital. Some won’t pay for the Clinic and some won’t pay for University Hospitals. If you lived in Nowhere, Idaho, you may have an insurance that would pay for Nowhere General and wouldn’t pay for The University of Nowhere Health Center. The insurance issue is completely irrelevant. When you get into a car accident, the first responder doesn’t check your insurance card to see if your plan fully covers ambulance rides, or to find out which hospital to use.
As far as whether or not the Cleveland Clinic is the best hospital to be taken to for any emergency issue, I suppose that’s going to be a debate filled with personal opinion and old, ingrained bias. I was born at Metro General, and years later Metro saved my life after my appendix burst. I had emergency surgery and spent a long ass time laying on a bed. My mom loves Metro so much that when I wrecked a mini bike and almost tore my face off, she resisted taking me to Southwest General, even though it was 30 minutes closer. I know a man who had his life saved by University Hospitals when they performed a kidney transplant. Robin Williams went to the Cleveland Clinic to have heart surgery. Maybe you have a story like this, maybe you don’t, but deciding what hospital is the best for certain situations is a pretty unreachable goal. There are awesome hospitals and not so awesome hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic is near the top of the world’s awesome list. If my life hung in the balance, I’d pick the Clinic over any hospital inside of 30 miles from the Medina Helipad.
The competition between hospitals is, unfortunately, absolutely true. Healthcare is a bottom line business, no matter who’s in power politically and no matter who’s on the operating table. I’d say that the last 20 years or so of crazy profit driven hospital CEOs is probably the fault of the insurance industry, but really, the insurance industry is just a microcosm of the greed that goes on in everyday life, anyway. I completely agree that the system of healthcare for profit is broken. You’re right about that. But using that point to argue against the helipad is kind of like beating your head against a brick wall to prove that a brick wall is hard. We all know brick walls are hard. And now you have a headache.
And finally, being hushed up by the Cleveland Clinic. Sigh. Well, that’s probably going on, too. I don’t have any proof, and if you have proof I’ll help you tell people, but I suspect that if there were really a big controversial reason to explain why the helipad exists that we would have heard it by now. The helipad is there because it heightens the Cleveland Clinic’s presence in the “rural” areas to the south of Cuyahoga county, because it helps to drive the revenue that will amortize the expense of the partnership with Medina Hospital, and because helicopter transportation is sometimes critical to saving lives.
I have no doubt that the Clinic doesn’t want bad press and they’re probably doing everything in their power prevent negative publicity. They’ll spend a half million dollars doing some studies before they build giant noise dampening walls on the hospital’s perimeter, and really, that’s all you’re going to get. Is it good enough? Maybe not, and that’s truly a shame, because I know the homeowners in that area had no idea that this helipad was going to be in existence 5 years or 10 years or however long ago they bought their homes. That’s really what this is all about. Home values. And I get it. I’d be pissed, too, but I’m also within my mind enough to realize that when The University of Nowhere Health Center builds a helipad behind a neighborhood in Nowhere, Idaho for the same reasons the Clinic did here in Medina, OH, that none of us are going to care. Because it’s not our backyard, it’s not our annoyances and it’s not our homes depreciating in value because of it.
I do stand by my offer, though. If there really is some kind of crazy helipad conspiracy, prove it. I’ll post it here, I’ll post if on facebook, I’ll post it on twitter, I’ll help. I’m not arguing in mean spirit, and I’m interested in your response. But if the proof is that the Clinic is influencing local media to not talk about the issue and the only angle the media would have even if it did was that big time healthcare is profit driven and the system is broken, well, that’s old news.