Hospitals

Help wanted: CEO for Cleveland’s MetroHealth public hospital to step down

One of the toughest jobs in healthcare — CEO for a public/charity hospital — opened up in Cleveland on Friday. Mark Moran, the leader of MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, told staff  members he wouldn’t renew his contract when it expires in March. His email to the staff is as follows: MetroHealth is on the […]

One of the toughest jobs in healthcare — CEO for a public/charity hospital — opened up in Cleveland on Friday. Mark Moran, the leader of MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, told staff  members he wouldn’t renew his contract when it expires in March.

His email to the staff is as follows:

MetroHealth is on the right path.  The System is providing more care for the uninsured at a lower subsidy.  The ACCESS Campaign is proven.  The patient centered medical home is working.  The Medicaid waiver holds the promise of insuring more County residents.  The Middleburg Heights ambulatory center will soon break ground.  The campus master plan will define a sustainable future for the System.  The faculty ranks have grown and their commitment to MetroHealth is secure.  The management team is talented and accountable.  The 2012 budget is realistic.

However there is a lot more to do.  Most importantly, healthcare reform will bring changes that we see only dimly now.  MetroHealth needs a CEO that will lead the System to and through 2014.  As you know, when I joined MetroHealth in 2008, my intention was to stay only two years and I have already stayed four.

Therefore I have notified the Board that I am not going to enter into a new contract as President and Chief Executive Officer.  I will work through the end of my current contract and assist in the leadership transition.

I have been privileged to have worked with all of you and am honored to have shared in the valuable work done at MetroHealth.

How hard is it to be the CEO of a public health system in the era of looming healthcare reform? Moran himself called public hospital an endangered species, facing the specter of decreased federal payments, narrower to disappearing margins around charity care and likely fewer paying patients.

Rumors poured out of MetroHealth earlier this year that the health system was all but planning its inevitable acquisition by another health system in the region. Moran directly refuted these assertions, however, saying: “MetroHealth’s elimination is not inevitable!” He added: “The future is uncertain, but we have shown the determination to take our destiny in our own hands and build for it.”

Metro, meanwhile, had been pummeled by the local press for a series of goof ups and missteps, and faced increasing scrutiny from government officials who provide a small subsidy to the hospital. And it continued to trim jobs related to the challenges of uncompensated care.

Who will be the person to take on this job?

“We will look for a person whose view of health care is significantly patient-centric, who understands public health care and who has sound knowledge of the health care business,”  said board Chairman Ronald Fountain. “The new CEO will understand and believe in our mission and understand the impact of this organization on the community and the community’s impact on the organization.”

Metro says a time line hasn’t been set yet, but the board will form a search committee to identify Moran’s successor.

A former consultant who helped Metro develop a new strategic plan before becoming interim CEO and president in 2008, Moran was named permanently to the position in 2009. Under his leadership, Metro turned around several years of operating losses with three consecutive years of surplus, although a spike in charity care and reduced reimbursements has led to expectations that Metro will just break even this year.

Fountain noted that Metro has also expanded its care, providing 220,000 unreimbursed visits this year and fully integrated an electronic medical records system under Moran.

“With a solid foundation and a secure direction now in place, and health reform on the horizon, Mark is confident that it is time for new leadership to carry MetroHealth forward,” Fountain said.

Chris Seper contributed to this report.