Monday, August 15, 2016 – Today the Executive Arrangements staff visited The MetroHealth System’s main campus to learn firsthand how their Campus Transformation Plan will reshape a portion of Cleveland’s W.25th Street neighborhood…the portion that hasn’t felt the economic bump that has happened closer to the epicenter of Lorain and W. 25th near the West Side Market.
Because for most of our lives Cuyahoga County’s MetroHealth was the only Level One Trauma Center in NE Ohio, many natives think of Metro as the hospital where Metro Life Flight helicopters take car accident and gunshot victims and where those with severe burns receive highly skilled care and rehab. But all that has been quietly changing as Metro embraces the future, much in part thanks to the leadership of CEO, Dr. Akram Boutros, who relocated to Cleveland in 2013 (with the help of EA we are proud to add) and the team he has been assembling to help him, including Walter Jones. The Campus Transformation Plan is just part of the overall vision for what Metro can be. Another major component of their plan is adding suburban campuses, and currently 97 percent of Cuyahoga County residents are located within a 10 minute car ride of a Metro facility. We believe that very soon many more Clevelanders will have their primary care and specialty doctors affiliated with Metro, just as many currently count on UH and the Clinic.
Walter Jones, trained as an architect and now in charge of Campus Transformation, shared great info with us and took us on a tour of the new Critical Care Pavilion. Walter joined Metro in 2014 (relocating from Dallas also with EA’s help) and several years worth of his work is slowly beginning to unfold.
A little bit of history helps put this in perspective. Metro is 179 years old. The oldest continually operating institution in the city of Cleveland with the exception of the government that runs Cleveland City Hall. MetroHealth is Cuyahoga County’s public hospital. The two towers that dominate the skyline were built in the 1970’s and were state-of-the-art when they opened; but let’s do the math, that was almost 50 years ago! Medicine has changed quite a bit since then. After estimates to rehab the current structures hit the $1 billion mark, a new plan began to emerge that removed the towers and replaced them with modern structures that would work for 21st century healthcare.
The very first piece of the Campus Transformation Plan is the Critical Care Pavilion, which opened just before Cleveland hosted the RNC convention in July (Metro was the designated hospital in case a major catastrophe happened at the convention…luckily that never materialized!). The CCP also houses several isolation rooms that can quarantine highly contagious patients (think Ebola). These 85 single occupancy rooms all have en suite bathrooms and are identically laid out so even during high stress periods where a patient needs a dozen specialists in the room, every healthcare worker present knows the exact location of every item they need as every room in the entire hospital is being designed with the same footprint. And because of this design feature, Metro is poised to be able to handle the ebb and flow of every department as they can easily turn rooms in one wing over to the care of patients that are overflowing from another department. OK, Walter Jones, that is just brilliant!
In 2016, HealthSpan (formerly known as Kaiser Permanente in Cleveland) left the field of patient care (still does insurance), and MetroHealth not only took over many of its buildings (acquiring 700,000 SF of space) but onboarded many of HealthSpan’s doctors to join their team. This allowed almost 50,000 HealthSpan patients to easily transfer their care to MetroHealth’s system, while allowing them to keep many of their favorite doctors and have access to many more facilities and specialists.
Metro has opened three new Emergency Departments since the beginning of 2016: Parma and Cleveland Heights (formerly HealthSpan Urgent Care Centers) as well as Brecksville.
But many people believe that Metro’s newly rebuilt campus will have a dramatic impact on the the economics of the surrounding neighborhood, which is mostly working class. Taking healthcare out of high rise towers and putting it close to the street in buildings just a few stories tall, all situated around a green, campus-like setting will not only improve the aesthetic look of the neighborhood, but will add jobs and new housing options. An influx of newcomers to the neighborhood with good healthcare jobs can only have a snowball effect and help bring in additional services, shops and restaurants while adding taxes to the city coffers and providing more opportunities for those who live nearby. Mr. Jones is actively involved with the Community Development Corps working to improve the W. 25th Street Corridor (Clark-Fulton, Ohio City, Inc., etc.). Expect more apartment buildings and single family homes to pop up close to Metro to help shrink the gap between the vibrant parts of Tremont and Ohio City and the campus of Metro.
A 9th-12th grade CMSD School of Science and Health will be embedded in the hospital as well and can accommodate 150 students. All will come from Cleveland’s nearby Lincoln West High School, and the school calendar will be full year, with 10 weeks on and three weeks off throughout the year.
The time frame for the entire transformation is four to five years and will encompass roughly 50 acres. The most telling thing that Walter said all morning was his response to the question about why Metro didn’t just work to find a large piece of land elsewhere in the city so they could build new while they were tearing down the old and have everything open much faster: “This is our community and our neighborhood. The people who live close by count on us. We could not just abandon them.” There really is something special about the people who choose to work at Metro. It’s almost like they are answering a higher calling than just medicine, and Walter exemplifies that attitude.