Only in Cleveland

I have worked a school calendar schedule for 23 years and relish every day of my summer vacation as much as the students. I have the good fortune of being able to travel with my husband for short trips, especially during the summer when I am off work.  There is a pattern to these mini-trips, rarely lasting more than one night out and almost always putting us in the vicinity of Cleveland.   For example, while he is off seeing a customer, I am writing this from a hotel room just beyond Canton, Ohio -the birthplace of the National Football League and the site of the ‘most beautiful presidential grave site’ for William McKinley.  Does life get any better than this?

Buckeyes, those of us who live in Ohio are called that after our official state tree and not the big Scarlet & Grey school nickname, are often a bit disrespectful of Cleveland.  Ok, honestly we laugh at almost all the jokes about Cleveland.  Among other things, this disrespect partially comes from the time in the 1960’s when the Cuyahoga River, running through this industrial area, caught on fire.  The Cuyahoga twists and turns its way through the neighboring areas and eventually empties into Lake Erie.  There have been at least eleven fires on the Cuyahoga River, and the last one in 1969  spurred the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency  as well as the Clean Water Act, that the entire United States benefit from today.

The fires on the Cuyahoga were a turning point in American environmental policy, and instead of hiding this bit of history, the folks of Cleveland acknowledge it through a variety of ways, including the brewing of Great Lakes’ Burning River Ale.  There is also the annual Burning River Fest, celebrated on Whiskey Island.  The more time I spend in Cleveland, especially in these hotel rooms, the more I learn about the area from those glossy brochures that are left in the lobby to entice visitors to explore the area.

The Cleveland economy is no longer driven by industry – the glory days of manufacturing in Cleveland are gone, and so are the fires on the Cuyahoga. This is a city that reinvented itself as a health care destination for people from around the world as well as the home of some impressive universities and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Cleveland Clinic is ranked as one of the top four hospitals in the United States and the word on the street is only Mayo Clinic has a further world-wide reach than Cleveland Clinic.  You can’t go anywhere in the area without seeing the logo for this non-profit healthcare organization.

On my last trip to the area, the Cleveland Clinic logo showed up in the most unusual and unexpected spot – in our hotel, a Holiday Inn Express in a Cleveland suburb.  I’m minding my own business, walking down the hall to our room, when I see the sign ‘Cleveland Clinic Sleep Lab. Do Not Disturb.’  I stopped and read the sign again just to be sure I hadn’t read it wrong. Having had a sleep study myself, and being diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea which is a common companion disorder to Multiple Sclerosis, I was particularly intrigued and asked the hotel staff for more information.

It appears Cleveland is once again the leader of new ideas that might catch on across the nation – they have a sleep study observation room in this hotel, and have rented the room for an entire year.  The atmosphere of the Holiday Inn is more conducive to sleep, parking is definitely more convenient, but most of all, it should allow for more affordable testing. Instead of a costly bed space in a hospital, I would guess they are paying the market rate for this room.  Only one technician is necessary and when the night is over, the hotel housekeeping staff comes in, changes the sheets, cleans the restroom and makes the room ready for the next night. I was told this 2-bed sleep study room is occupied almost every night.  I looked further on their website and see that these sleep clinic test sites are spread across the area and are also located in Marriott, Hilton, and Motel 6 hotels.

I would have been more comfortable doing my sleep study in a Holiday Inn than a hospital clinic, and perhaps I could have gathered some extra points on my Holiday Inn Priority Club account or at least had a complimentary breakfast before going home.  This is an innovative approach to a common study, and I can’t help but think Cleveland Clinic will again lead the nation in making reforms for sleep study protocols.  Hopefully this approach also means price breaks for the patients. Recent research shows a large majority of people with MS also have sleep disorders and it is recommended that each of us have a sleep study performed to identify our problems.

The Cuyahoga River’s 100 mile route travels south and then flows west before heading north into Lake Erie, and we encounter it multiple times on our drive home; we see Cleveland Clinic signs everywhere as well. Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis is the largest MS clinic in the world, and sees over 20,000 MS patients a year.  This behemoth of a medical system is a leader in many other health categories as well, and its presence in the region can’t be ignored

The more time I spend in Cleveland and learn about the fires and the clinic, the more my opinion of Cleveland has to change.  This is a region that has turned adversity of fire and health into something they can be proud of, celebrate, and claim the role of a leader in many ways.  But please pardon me if I still snicker at the Cleveland jokes – some things are hard to change.

Wishing you well,


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