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Clark Fulton, Health care, Public Health

MetroHealth CEO reports on progress and plans at annual stakeholders meeting

(Plain Press, July 2016) On June 9th, at MetroHealth System’s annual stakeholders meeting, Dr. Akram Boutros, MetroHealth’s president and chief executive officer, told members of the MetroHealth family, “we are the resilient ones.” Boutros told those assembled at the Global Center for Health Innovation meeting for stakeholders, about a report given to the MetroHealth Board of Trustees in 2011 that predicted MetroHealth would be more than $40 million in the red by 2015. He said not only is the hospital system not in the red, it ended 2015 “with 29.8 million dollars in operating income. That’s money in the bank.”

Boutros went on to outline a number of the accomplishments of MetroHealth System as it expanded the number of locations throughout Cuyahoga County. In addition to health centers and immediate care facilities, Boutros noted the hospital was providing services to students in 14 Cleveland public schools, providing services at the Cuyahoga County jail and the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center, at Recovery Resources, Malachi Center, Providence House and other facilities throughout Cuyahoga County.

Providing good jobs is another way MetroHealth is contributing to the community, said Boutros. He noted in that over the past three years the hospital hired 604 new employees. That figure doesn’t include the construction workers employed in the Critical Care Pavilion expansion, or the 400 workers hired this year as MetroHealth moved into four former HealthSpan locations. Boutros noted that the starting pay at MetroHealth was increased in 2015. “Today, no MetroHealth employee earns less than 12 dollars an hour,” he said.

In his remarks, Boutros included mentions of a number of programs and services MetroHealth provides. Those include working in collaboration with the City of Cleveland, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland and the Northern Ohio Trauma System to create a “gun violence program that has brought lasting peace to other communities.” Boutros said, under the program, interrupters will come to the hospital and work with police and medical staff to encourage gun violence victims not to seek retaliation. These efforts will be followed up with work by Violence Intervention Specialists who will help individuals “find the off-ramp to the chaos that’s destroying their lives,” said Boutros.

Programs in the neighborhood mentioned by Boutros include the Pride Clinic at McCafferty Health Center at W. 42nd and Lorain which Boutros referred to as “a safe haven for our LGBT community;” the new school of science and health opening in the hospital this year (see article on Lincoln West School of Science and Health elsewhere in this issue); and a supported housing program for MetroHealth employees which Boutros said, “aims to move 500 MetroHealth families to our W. 25th Street neighborhood in the next 5 to 10 years.”

Boutros also announced MetroHealth is participating in the First Year Cleveland covenant – “a commitment to significantly and sustainably reduce the infant mortality rate in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.” He said as part of that effort MetroHealth is building a Nurse Family Partnership program that “send nurses into the homes of high risk pregnant women and new moms to help their babies stay healthy.”

Boutros also announced a new Health Maintenance Organization, CLECare, in partnership with Medical Mutual of Ohio. An option, he said, would help self-funded employers save up to 15 percent on insurance premiums.

Another new health offering, Select Direct, Boutros said would provide “preventive care, primary care and health screening services” for a small monthly fee paid by patients or their employers. Boutros said the program is designed to give “those who have high-deductible or catastrophic insurance a simple, low-cost way to pay for basic and preventive care.”

Boutros spoke of the importance and benefits to the community of going forward with plans to rebuild MetroHealth’s main campus on W. 25h Street. “Rebuilding our main campus will boost the economy of Cleveland’s West Side and ripple across the city, the county and northeast Ohio. It will create more jobs – more good-paying union jobs. It will pump millions of dollars into the local economy. It will catalyze and advance redevelopment in the neighborhood along a neglected strip of West 25th Street from the West Side Market to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Only with the leadership of an anchor institution can we accomplish this,” he said.

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