MetroHealth CEO to Retire at End of 2022
Dr. Akram Boutros helped transform system, innovate community healthcare, grow patient base and establish financial strength
After more than eight years as President and Chief Executive Officer of The MetroHealth System, Dr. Akram Boutros has announced his retirement effective December 31, 2022.
“I fell in love with MetroHealth the first time I visited, and it has been the privilege of a lifetime to be its CEO,” said Boutros, who was brought in to help transform the System and to establish long-term sustainability. “I never imagined that we would have accomplished so much so quickly. Over the past 8 ½ years, The MetroHealth System has emerged as a national leader, renowned for its focus on the community, and distinguished for its financial strength. And I am delighted to say that we have, arguably, achieved our vision of becoming the most admired public health system in the nation. With The Glick Center and Behavioral Health Hospital opening next year, it feels like the right time to hand the baton to MetroHealth’s next leader.”
“Akram has exceeded the Board’s, employees’, and the community’s expectations. We are incredibly grateful for his leadership and for the strong position he has put us in to attract a great next CEO,” said MetroHealth Board Chair Vanessa Whiting, who is president of A.E.S. Management Corp. and served on the search committee that hired Boutros in 2013. “He guided our care toward a uniquely patient-centered, whole-system approach that aggressively addresses social determinants of health and is a national model. He recruited and developed a leadership team that excels in care, operations, and innovation. He brought long-term stability to our finances, doubled our revenues, and created businesses that support our mission. And he led the development of a new vision for MetroHealth, including a $1 billion campus transformation backed by hospital revenue bonds and requiring no direct taxpayer funding.”
Since joining MetroHealth as its President and CEO in 2013, Dr. Boutros’ visionary thinking has inspired MetroHealth to elevate health care by integrating social services to build equity, promote justice and improve the health of people and the communities they live in. He has galvanized political leaders, entrepreneurs, and the community around an inspiring and comprehensive model of health care that goes beyond traditional medicine to include developing affordable housing, distributing healthy food, and providing educational opportunities, job training, legal services and more throughout the community. He grew the employee base from 6,200 to nearly 8,000, was the first to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2019, and to provide no-deductible, no-copay health coverage to employees.
The Board of Trustees is issuing a Request for Proposal to retain an executive search firm that will help conduct a nationwide search and will be announcing the members of the newly-formed Search Committee in December. The Committee is comprised of MetroHealth Trustees, physicians and staff, organizational partners, and community leaders.
“Akram has been preparing the board and the health system for this day. We’re thankful that he has positioned us well and given us enough notice to run a thorough process to identify the person best-suited to succeed him,” said Whiting. “MetroHealth’s clinical strength, national stature, strong leadership team, financial strength and soon-to-be state-of-the-art main hospital and campus will allow us to attract a great pool of candidates.”
During his tenure, MetroHealth’s annual revenue grew from $785 million to more than $1.5 billion. Since 2013, the health system has opened two hospitals, three emergency departments, ten community health centers, nine pharmacies, and sent health care providers into more than a dozen local schools. He developed Ohio's only Ebola Treatment Center and led COVID testing and vaccination efforts to bring equitable care to those who are often overlooked.
Dr. Boutros paired MetroHealth’s expansion with a $1 billion reimagination of the System’s main campus on West 25th Street. The new MetroHealth Glick Center, which opens in October 2022, and Outpatient and Administration Building in 2023, will be surrounded by 25 acres of green space, resulting in the first hospital in a park in the country. This investment sparked the rebirth of the surrounding neighborhood and led to the development of the Clark Fulton/MetroHealth EcoDistrict – the first hospital-sponsored certified EcoDistrict in the world. This investment has supported and will support 6,000+ new and existing jobs and result in $900+ million in total output of economic benefit for Cuyahoga County.
Just as important has been Dr. Boutros’ focus on inclusion, diversity and equity. To date, the campus transformation project has achieved workforce goals of 50% County residents, 18% City residents, 22% minority, and 5% women participation. In 2020, 39% of MetroHealth’s new hires were racially or ethnically diverse.
Over the past three years, MetroHealth returned more than $650 million to Cuyahoga County in free care and community benefit programs, two times the national average.
In his role as CEO of the MetroHealth Foundation, he shepherded the largest donation in its history – $42 million from JoAnn and Bob Glick – and helped increase the campaign goal from $100 to $150 million.
Dr. Boutros’ collaborative spirit has led to dozens of partnerships, including those with UH-Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, ProMedica, Cleveland Innovation District, and Cuyahoga Community College. MetroHealth opened the only high school inside a hospital in 2018, which has had three graduating classes where every senior of the Lincoln West School of Science and Health has been accepted into college.
When the Cuyahoga County Correctional Center crisis unfolded, he pushed MetroHealth to take over full medical care responsibilities, which led to a turnaround in outcomes and exemplary reviews by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.
He serves on numerous nonprofit boards and is the recipient of dozens of awards and recognitions, including America’s 50 Most Influential Clinical Executives by Modern Healthcare, Humanitarian Award from The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, George V. Voinovich Municipal Service Award from The Cuyahoga County Mayors & City Managers Association, Richard H. Adler Community Leadership Award from the American Jewish Committee Cleveland, Stokes Community Leadership Award, and Albert G. and Audrey B. Ratner Community Leader Award from Global Cleveland.
The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.
The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, two-thirds of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.
As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.
Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.
The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.
For more information, visit metrohealth.org.