A Good Prognosis

Let’s call it Clevelanditis.

You know the symptoms. The early warning signs start deep in your gut: swollen negativity. It spreads to your head and results in a nagging case of narrow-mindedness. Eventually it leads to a chronic inferiority complex, deflated self-worth and overwhelming fear of failure. Clevelanditis is often accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath and acute problems with balance and coordination. (If any of these symptoms persist for more than 40 years, please consult your doctor, or at least a local politician.)

In my expert medical opinion, Clevelanditis is likely a virus we picked up after one of our countless bouts with civic heartbreak, which is bound to weaken the immune system. You know that list: Default, Burning River, The Drive, The Fumble, Adopt-a-Can, Poorest City.

Actually, it’s a testament to our Midwestern heartiness that we’re even walking around after suffering with Clevelanditis for so long.

But you’d think a town with such an incredible medical community would have come up with some remedy for Clevelanditis by now.

Why aren’t people toiling away on a cure — one with a snappy name like KuciniFix or ViQuinn — for our civic ills?

Well, they are.

It’s not some miracle drug, though. No, it’s more like a healthy lifestyle makeover: It’s more effort, slower to show results and requires a lot more components to be in sync, but if it works, the results should be more fruitful and longer lasting.

Consider that Northeast Ohio doubled the amount of money invested in its growing companies last year. According to the recently completed 2007 Venture Capital Report, $318 million in capital was raised last year compared to $157 million in 2006. It’s a good start toward the $1.2 billion in investment that NorTech, a local development corporation devoted to technology, predicts the region will need to attract by 2011 to meet our needs.

The biggest winner was the biosciences — biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and healthcare services and IT — which accounted for about three-quarters of the funding. Investments in companies such as Athersys ($70 million) and Franklin & Seidelmann ($25 million) contributed much to the overall total.

More good news: Early-stage and seed money for startups also doubled in terms of dollars and number of investments. That’s important, because it encourages entrepreneurship at its infant stages.

Our hospitals continue to lead the way as well. The Cleveland Clinic has a healthy $868 million worth of projects, including a new heart institute and a more parklike, pedestrian-friendly campus.

University Hospitals’ Vision 2010 master plan calls for more than $1 billion in investments over five years, including a cancer hospital, neonatal intensive care unit at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and center for emergency medicine.

Lake Hospital System is building a $150 million hospital in Concord that’s slated to open in 2009.

Landing the proposed Medical Mart could be another big step in our healthy makeover. Though not a sure bet that it will locate here, the mart would house showrooms for health-care equipment and products, and would work to attract trade shows and conferences to a new convention center. It would stitch up the city as more than a leader in heath care, making it a winner in heath commerce as well.

But all the money in the medical world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the right people. And even the quickest glance through this issue in your doctor’s waiting room will tell you we have plenty of good people. The official number — a whopping 757 physicians in 65 specialties — as selected by Best Doctors Inc. is almost 200 more than last year’s total. And that’s just those who have been recognized by Best Doctors. There are plenty of other great docs throughout Northeast Ohio working to make you as healthy as you can be — maybe even working to alleviate that bad case of Clevelanditis.

Gee, I’m feeling a little better already. How about you?

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