CLEVELAND - It would be the last place you'd expect to find more than 600 letters addressed to Cleveland Clinic patients in five states, sitting in the turning lane of a busy Chester Avenue in the middle of the morning.
But that's where NewsChannel5 multimedia journalist Gary Abrahamsen found the neatly stacked box of letters, untouched, just sitting on the Cleveland street.
"I see this box, and I happen to look over thinking, this is mail laying in the middle of the street," said Abrahamsen. "I was concerned that maybe they were paychecks or some kind of special documents with numbers on there, that somebody could get their hands onto them."
Abrahamsen recovered the letters, and NewsChannel5's troubleshooter team quickly contacted the main branch of the U.S. Postal Service in Cleveland.
USPS Regional Spokesman David Van Allen believes the letters were somehow lost in transit, as they were being delivered by an independent carrier, who was on his way to Cleveland's main sorting facility on Orange Avenue.
Van Allen was a bit surprised by Abrahamsen's discovery.
"Well this particular type of thing, this is the first time in my experience in ten years," said Van Allen.
"It looks to me like it was a mailer that prepared the mailing, and somehow it ended up where you found it. We don't actually deliver to the Cleveland Clinic, and they bring their mail to us."
Van Allen stressed the importance of a quick public reaction when it comes to recovering lost mail.
"If anyone ever finds something like that, please do call your local post office," said Van Allen. "We'll have someone come and pick it up and make sure it gets where it needs to go."
NewsChannel5 contacted the Cleveland Clinic and it confirmed the letters did not contain direct patient information. The lost letters included service provider information to some 600 Cleveland Clinic clients in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and Washington.
The Cleveland Clinic told NewsChannel5 it's conducting a full investigation as to how the letters were lost in transit, and issued the following statement in response to our story:
“We appreciate NewsChannel5’s involvement in retrieving and delivering these letters to us promptly. On our initial review, we determined these were addressed to healthcare providers regarding new guidelines and they did not include any patient information.”
NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com will follow-up on this developing story.
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