Hotels Cleveland Clinic
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Long-term patients receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic have been displaced from their hotels this week because of the Republican National Convention.
It is unclear how many patients have been forced to find alternative places to stay during the convention, which has brought an estimated 50, 000 visitors to town, filling up hotels throughout the region.
Sharon Willits, of Wheeling, West Virginia, arrived in Cleveland at the end of June to participate in a four-week pain rehabilitation program at the Clinic. When she checked in at the Comfort Inn Downtown, she was told that she would need to be out by Friday, July 15.
And when she asked for a recommendation on where she could go? She was told every room in town was booked.
Willits did find another place - a friend told her about Hospitality Homes of Cleveland, which places hospital patients in privately-owned homes - but she's still angry. "I don't think it was the right thing for the hotel to do, " said Willits.
In the middle of her program, she had to return to Wheeling to pick up her car, so she could drive to the Clinic from her new temporary residence in Lyndhurst (she had been taking the hotel shuttle from downtown Cleveland to the Clinic campus four miles away).
"And to be honest, I blame the Republican Party, too. Do they think they are the only ones in the world?" she said.
A Comfort Inn manager, who declined to give his name, said guests were told when they made their reservations they would not be allowed to extend their stay past July 15. "It's unfortunate for everybody, it really is, " he said. "But we have no control over it."
When Cleveland bid on the RNC in 2014, it had to guarantee the city could produce 16, 000 hotel rooms. Those rooms are spread across 100 hotels in five counties.
As part of the bid, most individual hotels were asked to commit approximately 90 percent of their inventory for the four-day event, which ends Thursday.
Among the hotels that made the commitment: Three properties on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic - the InterContinental Cleveland, the InterContinental Suites Hotel and the Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic - all of which get a majority of business from the hospital.
RNC visitors have taken over all three this week, forcing Clinic guests to come up with alternative arrangements.
Heather Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Clinic, said the hospital made every effort to inform patients that the RNC might bring disruptions.
The hospital reached out to 600 patients who were scheduled for appointments and procedures during RNC week. A special website was set up with alternative places to stay, including apartments at nearby Case Western Reserve University and a hotel in Twinsburg, from which the Clinic offered shuttle transportation. Phillips said about a third of those 600 patients made reservations, while others rescheduled, commuted from home or found other places to stay.
Some patients, too, were allowed to remain at the Clinic hotels, using the rooms not designated for the RNC. Patients allowed to stay were assessed based on their health, how far they were from home and other factors.
"Everyone was notified, both personally and in writing, " said Joe Mosbrook, a spokesman for the three Clinic-affiliated hotels. "Nobody was put out on the street."
A spokeswoman for University Hospitals, meanwhile, said she was unaware of any patients who were displaced from hotels this week.
Not all overnight Clinic patients choose to stay on the hospital campus, where rates run higher than city averages. The hospital has agreements with many other hotels in town, which offer discounted overnight room rates to patients.
One woman, staying at an extended-stay hotel near Cleveland Hopkins airport, has been in Cleveland receiving medical care since February.
She wasn't kicked out of her hotel, but she was told she would have to move from the two-bedroom suite she shares with her caregiver to a smaller room. She also was told her rate would increase while the RNC was in town.
She chose to move in with a friend instead.
"It came out of the blue, " said the woman, a transplant patient, who asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy.
"I can't move one week and move back the next, " said the woman, whose hotel suite was filled with medical equipment. "I moved once before and I got truly sick."
She said the stress of the situation had already affected her health, causing her blood pressure to skyrocket.
Beverly Weiand, a registered nurse and the executive director of Hospitality Homes of Cleveland, said she has gotten numerous calls in the past few weeks from patients looking for places to stay after losing their hotel rooms. She has helped several.
She thinks those patients were put in a lousy position.
"You don't do that, " she said. "I don't think that's hospitality. These people are already in a sensitive situation."
Many patients arrive in Cleveland not knowing how long they'll be here, she said. And even if they were told they had to vacate by July 15, they might not have remembered.
"They have so much on their minds. They're not coming to Cleveland to go to the museums. It's very stressful."
She started Hospitality Homes 18 years ago, when Cleveland didn't have nearly the hotel space that it has now. Patients are charged $40 a day to stay in a house in a nearby community.