CLEVELAND — Descendants of the Cleveland Clinic’s co-founder plan to add their voices to a weekend protest urging the hospital system to denounce President Donald Trump’s policies and cancel a planned fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The Crile family’s name is all over the clinic, including on a prominent building named after George Washington Crile, a pioneer of modern surgery who co-founded the clinic (and is credited with the first successful blood transfusion).
Now his granddaughter, Susan Crile, has written a letter that will be read aloud at a protest on Saturday being organized by medical students who oppose Trump’s immigration policies.
“The Cleveland Clinic should be very outspoken,” said Crile, an artist who teaches at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York. “Silence, by its very nature, is in compliance with whatever the administration is trying to do.”
Crile said she and eight other members of her family signed a petition calling on the clinic to condemn Trump’s recent executive order imposing a temporary travel ban on residents from seven majority Muslim nations.
Eileen Sheil, a spokeswoman for the clinic, said the clinic intends to proceed with its fundraiser on Feb. 25, but has not planned any future events at Mar-a-Lago. The chief executive of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute said earlier this week that her organization will also proceed with this year’s fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, but will avoid such controversial venues in the future.
Crile said such large and influential institutions have a responsibility to do more than simply refuse to book future events at Trump’s club.
She called on the clinic’s chief executive, Dr. Toby Cosgrove to re-think his participation in a business group that advises Trump on policy matters. “I really feel that they should stand up very powerfully,” she said. “The clinic has always made its patients a foremost consideration. And who are its patients? People of every creed, race, and nationality.”
Sheil said the clinic isn’t ignoring the impact of Trump’s policy decisions. “We’re not being outspoken publicly to the media, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care deeply about this,” she said. “We believe that having a seat at the table at the highest level of government is more important than being shut out of the room.”
Ike Swetlitz contributed to this report.