Investigator Exclusive: '2100 Club' costing taxpayers a bundle

7:24 PM, Jun 6, 2008   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Channel 3 News has learned that last year, Cleveland safety forces responded to more than a thousand 9-1-1 calls to 2100 Lakeside Avenue -- also known in Cleveland EMS circles as the "2100 Club."

The city says it's costing taxpayers between $145,000 and more than a half million dollars a year to respond to all the emergency calls at 2100 Lakeside, which serves as an overnight shelter for homeless men.

It's also been home for up to 173 sexual offenders. Cleveland EMS worker Stephen Palek said he doesn't know of another location that safety forces respond to more than 2100 Lakeside.

"They know what to say to get a fast response," Palek said.

Another EMS worker believes 2100 is abusing the system, citing emergency responses to calls for nothing more than headaches and diarrhea.

"I would hate for someone to die or be in a critical situation because of not having a unit there promptly because of the abuse at 2100," the worker told The Investigator, Tom Meyer.

Last year, Cleveland Fire responded to 215 emergency calls at the shelter while police responded to 324 calls and EMS 479 calls. A review of those calls found that one out of every seven came in as a high-priority call but ended up as the lowest of priorities.

Cleveland's Public Safety Director, Marty Flask, said the city is dealing with a homeless population that has no transportation and uses the hospital emergency room as its primary caregiver.

"Clearly we are responding to emergencies we should not be responding to," Flask said.

Cleveland Councilman Brain Cummins is insisting on a council review of EMS protocol to help insure that low-priority calls don't get in the way of life-threatening emergencies.

The issues involving 2100 Lakeside comes at a time when EMS workers are complaining of working up to 18 hour days, several days a week. Some workers say they're so exhausted that they fear not being able to drive an ambulance safely and deal with real emergencies.


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