Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., delivers the annual State of the Clinic address Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

Dr. Mihaljevic outlined the challenges facing healthcare after COVID-19 pandemic, reinforces commitment to patients, caregivers and community

January 18, 2023 – During today’s annual State of the Clinic address, Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., outlined the challenges facing healthcare as the world moves beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In recent years, when I reviewed our accomplishments, we were gripped by winter surges of COVID-19,” he told Cleveland Clinic’s 77,000 caregivers worldwide via a virtual address. “It is comforting to begin the New Year on a healthier footing.”

Dr. Mihaljevic, holder of the Morton L. Mandel CEO Chair at Cleveland Clinic, pointed to several trends causing disruption throughout healthcare:

  • Americans’ health and patient experience are declining.
  • More healthcare workers are burned out, retiring early or leaving their careers.
  • The majority of hospitals are enduring financial losses.
  • And gaps in healthcare equity threaten to grow wider in local communities.

“Today’s challenges are tomorrow’s opportunities to lead,” he said.

Cleveland Clinic focuses on four care priorities – care for patients, caregivers, community and the organization.Care for Patients

“In healthcare, we are expected to prevent harm, save lives, communicate and create access,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “With all of that, we eliminate the suffering of our patients … restoring joy in their lives, and also in our lives, by doing work that matters.”

The core tenets of patient care are safety, quality and patient experience. A recent example is a new practice developed at Cleveland Clinic called, Code Sepsis, which is a dedicated team of providers to treat sepsis, a blood stream infection. By detecting sepsis early and initiating treatment, the team saved 500 additional lives last year. Other examples include daily Plan of Care Visits to enhance communication and safety checklists to prevent serious safety events.

Care will continue to improve through research efforts, including: the Cleveland Clinic brain study, which will collect data from 200,000 participants over 20 years with the goal to uncover the origin of brain diseases before symptoms appear; research that will preserve sight for aging eyes; the Cleveland Innovation District and the Discovery Accelerator which are advancing healthcare and technology; a partnership with IBM to bring artificial intelligence and the first quantum computer to be used in medicine; and the Global Center for Pathogen & Human Health Research which is developing vaccines and showing how viruses can affect everyone.

Annually, Cleveland Clinic reinvests $450 million dollars into research and education.

“Through research, innovation and education, we invent tomorrow’s care,” he said. “Cleveland Clinic researchers transform health and care for the world.”

Care for Caregivers

The pandemic strained healthcare workers worldwide, leading to burnout and early retirement and a global shortage of nearly 2 million healthcare workers.

“Cleveland Clinic continues to care for a record number of patients,” Dr, Mihaljevic said. “This demonstrates the dedication that all of us have to our mission, as well as our shared responsibility to help everyone in need.”

Cleveland Clinic caregivers “have gone above and beyond” in their service to patients, Dr. Mihaljevic said. In an effort to reward the hard work of current caregivers and to attract new ones, Cleveland Clinic is committed to providing the best benefit package in healthcare and adding incentives, such as bonuses for nurse referrals.

Care for Community

Cleveland Clinic continues to reinforce its commitment to the communities it serves by healing, hiring and investing locally. As the largest employer in Ohio and many communities it serves, Cleveland Clinic is committed to providing good jobs and career paths, livable wages, and affordable healthcare benefits.

“We are coming closer to addressing the root causes of unequal health,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “When caring for a healthy community, medical care only contributes to a small portion. There are other factors, such as employment, environment, education and personal behaviors.”

In 2022, Cleveland Clinic hired more than 1,600 new caregivers who live in the City of Cleveland, the most ever in a single year.

In addition, Cleveland Clinic contributed more than $50 million to remove lead paint from Cleveland homes. In the Fairfax neighborhood, the healthcare system invested in new safe, affordable apartments. Throughout Cuyahoga County, the hospital’s Center for Infant and Maternal Care is working to ensure that African-American babies and their mothers have an equal chance at healthy lives. And by partnering with other community organizations, Cleveland Clinic is addressing the community’s most fundamental need – food.

“We now know that 50,000 children in Cleveland need regular access to nutritious food. The need extends to our Florida communities, including Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “Cleveland Clinic is committed to eradicating child hunger for the communities we serve, in partnership with other organizations.”

Care for the Organization

Last year, more than half of hospitals lost money despite patient demand, due to healthcare services pausing during the pandemic, labor shortages and associated higher wages, and inflation effecting supply and pharmaceutical costs.

For 2022, Dr. Mihaljevic reported that Cleveland Clinic anticipates an operating loss of more than $200 million, though he added, “I have full trust that we will come out of these times even stronger.”

“We have been able to fulfill our mission for more than 100 years – despite wars, recessions, pandemics and the tragic fire of 1929 on our campus,” he said. “Cleveland Clinic is persistent in good times and in hard times. We stay true to our goals, even when it is most difficult, and have never compromised our care.”

Cleveland Clinic continues to grow. Recent and upcoming projects include:

  • Mentor Hospital will open in July.
  • On the main campus, the expansion of the Cole Eye Building is under construction and construction of the Neurological Building breaks ground in May.
  • At Fairview Hospital, a master plan is being designed to enhance care for patients and caregivers.
  • In Florida, the fifth floor of Weston Hospital is now serving patients.
  • Cleveland Clinic London opened less than one year ago. It is serving more patients every month, with exceptional quality and safety. A second outpatient facility opens in September.
  • At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the new cancer center is open to meet the growing need for care in the United Arab Emirates.

“The mission of Cleveland Clinic embodies hope and possibility,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “I am optimistic about the future, because we apply what makes us great across our global system, along with our people. Cleveland Clinic’s model of care is the model of what healthcare will be. Our shared responsibility is to refine it, to meet the needs of our patients, and bring it to those who have lost hope.”

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 72,500 employees worldwide are more than 5,050 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,800 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 22 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2021, there were 10.2 million total outpatient visits, 304,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 259,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.