By Kevin Kelley
The fight to put a helipad on the top of Fairview Hospital’s new emergency department and intensive care unit building is not yet over.
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the hospital’s owner, has appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court. The filing, made April 26, asks the state Supreme Court to reverse an Eighth District Court of Appeals decision that restored a ruling by the Cleveland Board of Zoning against the helipad. A Common Pleas Court had previously overruled the BZA decision.
Fairview Hospital President Jan Murphy spoke about the appeal in a May 15 talk at the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Murphy said the hospital’s argument essentially is that a hospital located in a business district may have a helipad.
“It is undisputed that property owners have the right to employ ‘accessory uses’ customarily incident to a permitted use, that a hospital and its accessory uses are permitted uses in the zoning district where Fairview Hospital is located, and that a helipad is customarily incident to the operations of a hospital,” the hospital’s attorney argued in their motion.
The Ohio Supreme Court has yet to decide if it will hear the case.
Currently, helicopters bringing critically ill patients to Fairview Hospital must land in a field in the Cleveland Metroparks, and the patients are driven by ambulance to the emergency room. This causes logistical problems, Murphy said. For example, if a helicopter seeks to land at 2 a.m., the hospital must call the Metroparks rangers to turn on the lights for the helipad, Murphy said.
Some of the hospital’s West Park neighbors have criticized the proposed helipad, saying it’s designed to generate more revenue for the institution. But Murphy said the helipad is needed to save lives.
Heart attack patients currently diagnosed at the Richard E. Jacobs Health Center in Avon are now flown to the Cleveland Clinic for additional treatment, Murphy said. The Clinic system would like to fly the patients to Fairview Hospital instead, she said.
In other hospital-related news, Murphy told Chamber members that several physicians from the United Arab Emirates are participating in fellowships at Fairview Hospital, an outgrowth of the Clinic’s medical center now under construction in Abu Dhabi. Murphy suggested other such partnerships may be on the horizon.
“There are other countries that want to partner with the Clinic,” she said.
In this country, the health care industry needs to shift from the “disease model,” in which illnesses are diagnosed and treated, to the wellness model, in which prevention of the disease is given priority, Murphy said.
“If we did a better job at wellness, we could probably reduce the cost of health care to the nation,” the registered nurse said.
Murphy expressed concern about the rise of diabetes in children in particular.
“Our future workforce is at risk,” she said.
With full implementation of the Affordable Care Act coming in 2014, health care systems will need to improve the way people access medicine, Murphy said, with an emphasis on prevention and early treatment.
Hospitals, which used to get revenue based on the volume of patients seen, will need to focus more on value and results, because that is what reimbursement will be increasingly based on, Murphy noted.
“I used to pray for a bad flu season,” Murphy joked about the former volume-based financial model.