Hospi­tal’s fundraiser will stay at Trump site

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - JULIE CARR SMYTH

COLUM­BUS, Ohio — A lead­ing U.S. hospi­tal has de­cided it won’t move its an­nual fundraiser away from Don­ald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago re­sort de­spite pres­sure from health pro­fes­sion­als and oth­ers over the pres­i­dent’s sup­port for re­peal­ing the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act.

The Cleveland Clinic said donors and hospi­tal ex­ec­u­tives in Ohio and Flor­ida re­viewed the re­quest and de­cided against chang­ing the venue.

Spokesman Eileen Sheil said the event raises be­tween $700,000 and $1 mil­lion an­nu­ally to ex­pand pro­grams and pur­chase equip­ment for the hospi­tal’s Flor­ida fa­cil­ity. It’s been held at Mar-a-Lago the past eight years, she said.

“For us, this is more about rais­ing money to help our clin­i­cal pro­grams and pa­tient care,” Sheil said. “This is not a po­lit­i­cal state­ment by the Cleveland Clinic by any means.”

A pub­lic let­ter seek­ing re­lo­ca­tion of the event has col­lected more than 1,100 sig­na­tures from doc­tors, nurses, med­i­cal stu­dents and other Ohio res­i­dents con­cerned about the na­tion’s No. 2-ranked hospi­tal pa­tron­iz­ing a Trump busi­ness.

A Colum­bus car­di­ol­o­gist who signed the let­ter said Cleveland Clinic is a thought leader in medicine and Trump’s sup­port for re­peal­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act goes against its core prin­ci­ples sup­port­ing science, re­search and in­tegrity.

“The Cleveland Clinic has al­ways been a bas­tion of science, of re­search and of in­tegrity,” said Greg Lam, a mem­ber of the Physi­cians Ac­tion Net­work. “When the founders es­tab­lished the Cleveland Clinic in 1921, it was based on the prin­ci­ples of di­ver­sity, in­tegrity, re­search and facts. And that’s com­pletely an­ti­thet­i­cal to what Don­ald Trump rep­re­sents.”

The let­ter says the hospi­tal’s sup­port for the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion is un­ac­cept­able “be­cause it sym­bol­i­cally and fi­nan­cially supports a politi­cian ac­tively work­ing to de­crease ac­cess to health care and cut bil­lions of dol­lars in re­search fund­ing from the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health bud­get.”

The Amer­i­can Red Cross faced sim­i­lar push-back in Jan­uary when demon­stra­tors ral­lied out­side its an­nual fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago as the world­wide hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tion was of­fer­ing aid to those af­fected by Trump’s mora­to­rium on the U.S. refugee pro­gram.

Sheil said the hospi­tal didn’t make the de­ci­sion lightly.

“We did re­ally lis­ten to the com­mu­nity and we did con­sider other op­tions for the event this year, but, in the end, the de­ci­sion was made to stay at Mar-a-Lago, be­cause the venue is ap­pro­pri­ate for the size of the event that we have,” she said.

She said the hospi­tal has a pend­ing con­tract for the event, sched­uled for Feb. 24, but it has not yet been signed.

“Ob­vi­ously, we deeply care about health care cov­er­age and health care re­form and do­ing the right thing for cit­i­zens of the U.S.,” Sheil said. “But, for us, that’s a sep­a­rate is­sue that we are do­ing dif­fer­ent ef­forts for, to in­flu­ence how­ever we can.”

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