OCA Greater Cleveland organized an Asiatown Townhall Meeting held on 11/20/2014 to discuss MetroHealth’s unilateral and sudden decision to close the Asia Town Heath Center located at Asia Plaza. 177 Attendees, mostly Senior Citizens from the Asiatown Community that depend on the clinic attended and raised passionate questions and concerns to the 12 MetroHealth representatives. Suggestions to reverse the decision, or delay the closure to allow an easier transition, and even extremely generous financial incentives to keep the facility open offered by Asia Plaza has not changed the decision to close the clinic next week.
The community was very upset by: 1) Decision to close the facility that ably served the community for 22 years including non-English speaking elderly for whom bi-lingual medical staff and ease of neighborhood access is critical, 2) Abruptness of the announcement via an ad in Erie Chinese Journal a month prior to closure at the end of November, 3) Lack of community involvement and input to ease the transition, 4) Lack of notification to County and City Council – who learned of the closure through OCA.
The community was very impressed by the ardent support provided at the meeting by Cleveland City Councilman Jeffrey D. Johnson (Ward 10, previously represented Asiatown prior to rezoning) who rebuked the MetroHealth Senior Management for never approaching City Council or St. Clair Superior Development Corporation regarding the closure or on any concerns over the adequacy of the existing Asiatown facility. Regarding abandoning Asiatown, Councilman Johnson said: “Do you know the uniqueness of what is going on over here? …For you guys to take a walk after 22 years is unacceptable. This is Asiatown!” to the cheers of community. Similarly, County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell was surprised to learn about the closure at last week’s pre-meeting and sent a probing letter of inquiry to MetroHealth and has offered support for Asiatown.
Thanks to the Hom Family and Li Wah Restaurant for hosting the event, to OCA President Lisa Wong for organizing the meeting, OCA VP Administration Wayne Wong for Moderating the meeting, and OCA Board members Johnny Wu and Deborah Yue for support. Thanks to the speakers: MetroHeath’s Dr. Harry Walker Sr. VP of Ambulatory Network (and responsible for all 17 clinics), Dr. Sheng Liu the Medical Director of the current Asia Town MetroHealth facility, Michael Byun Executive Director of (ASIA) Asian Services In Action who was invited by MetroHealth to discuss the new unaffiliated ICHC clinic. Thank you to translators Henry Luu, William Young, Chia Chen, and Susan Cho-Harris. Further demonstrating the unique needs of Asiatown, the meeting was conducted in four languages (English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean). Thank you to all the many concerned community members and leaders for attending and supporting each other.
Video highlight of Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson’s rebuke of MetroHealth for the sudden Closure: