What obligations do prosperous businesses have to the neighborhoods surrounding them? What if those businesses are nonprofits that are supposed to have a higher purpose? The Cleveland Clinic is an institution in a deteriorating urban neighborhood where residents feel like they’re on a different planet, and the world-renknowned institution is gobbling up more of the surrounding neighborhood as it empties out.
The Cleveland Clinic is building new campuses all over the world, but its main home is a sprawling and constantly growing campus in Cleveland. A feature story in Politico this week examines the relationship between the Clinic and its neighbors, which is generally not warm.
There are fewer people each year in the Fairfax neighborhood that surrounds the clinic, and its campus keeps medical providers and patients separated from people who live in the area. Patients and employees never have to never have to leave for meals or services.
Activities that are theoretically open to neighborhood residents, who are largely poor and almost all African-American, aren’t as open as they seem. Area residents told Politico that they aren’t into the artisanal bouquets at the Clinic farmer’s market, and not many applied to get tickets to hear a speech by the CEO of Microsoft.
While the clinic employs almost as many people in the whole state of Ohio as Walmart, it hires few people from the surrounding neighborhood.
Then there’s health care, which is what you’d think would be an important way for the Clinic to serve its neighbors. While there’s a sparkling new clinic that specializes in diseases that people living in poverty usually have, it replaced an actual full-service hospital in the neighborhood.
“You can come from the Mideast and get a heart, but you can’t run down there” to get basic emergency services, one city councilman for the neighborhood told Politico.
Another sticking point is the Clinic’s tax-exempt status, especially as it continues…