Toby Cosgrove Stepping Down as Cleveland Clinic CEO

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Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove announced this morning that he will be stepping down from that role, which he's held for 13 years.

A replacement is expected to be named by the board by the end of this year.

Cosgrove worked as a cardiac surgeon at the Clinic for 30 years. He got his start as a surgeon in the Air Force, serving in Vietnam. "Cardiac surgery is an athletic event," Cosgrove said once in a C-SPAN interview with David Lamb. "I had seen a lot of surgeons come to the end of their careers and not stop when their athletic abilities deteriorate. I wanted to stop before that happened." He was named CEO in 2004.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of an extraordinary and forward-thinking organization that puts patients at the center of everything we do,” Cosgrove said in a public statement today.

The full Clinic release is below.

After nearly 13 years as president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic - which has grown into an $8 billion health system with multiple locations in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Canada, Abu Dhabi, and, in 2020, London - Toby Cosgrove, M.D., announced at a staff meeting today that he has decided to begin a succession process to transition out of the top executive role later this year. The Governance Committee has asked Dr. Cosgrove to continue on in an advisory role.

Over Dr. Cosgrove's tenure, Cleveland Clinic's expansion locally, nationally, and internationally has positioned the institution for a strong future as its revenues have grown from $3.7 billion in 2004 to $8.5 billion in 2016. It has become Ohio's largest employer with over 50,000 caregivers and a global leader in clinical outcomes, patient experience, innovation and wellness, ranking No. 2 in the nation last year by U.S. News & World Report.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of an extraordinary and forward-thinking organization that puts patients at the center of everything we do," Dr. Cosgrove said. "Cleveland Clinic's world-class reputation of clinical excellence, innovation, medical education and research was created and will be maintained by the truly dedicated caregivers who work tirelessly to provide the best care to our patients."

By making leadership development a top priority, Cleveland Clinic has developed a deep, talented pool of physician-leaders who are ready to take on executive roles such as hospital presidents, executive administrative roles, leaders of major initiatives across the enterprise, and more.

"The goal of any leader is to leave an institution better than you found it. Without a doubt, Toby has done that," said Cleveland Clinic Board of Directors chairman Bob Rich. "Our world-class reputation has only grown over the past 13 years, as he has led Cleveland Clinic through a period of dramatic growth and worldwide expansion."

His successor will be jointly selected by the Board of Directors and Board of Governors and that process is expected to be concluded in 2017. The Governance Committee has asked Dr. Cosgrove to continue on in an advisory role.

In keeping with its model as a physician-led institution, Cleveland Clinic's new president and CEO will be a practicing physician.

Before becoming CEO in 2004, Dr. Cosgrove was a cardiac surgeon for nearly 30 years, performing 22,000 operations and earning an international reputation for expertise in valve repair. As president and CEO, Dr. Cosgrove has driven major initiatives that have gained international recognition, created best practices in healthcare, focused on patient outcomes and promoted patient experience.

Cleveland Clinic has grown steadily between 2004 and 2016: the number of physician-scientists has doubled from 1,800 to 3,400; total visits increased from 2.8 million to 7.1 million; research funding grew from $121 million to $260 million; and construction has changed the face of Cleveland Clinic's main campus, with the addition of the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute, the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, the Tomsich Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute and, currently under construction, a health education campus in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University.

Dr. Cosgrove's leadership has emphasized patient care and patient experience, including the re-organization of clinical services into a patient-centered model of care designed around organs and diseases rather than doctors. He coined the phrase "Patients First" to be the guiding principle for all caregivers and hired the first Chief Patient Experience Officer to focus on the experiential, physical and emotional aspects of patient care, now a growing norm in hospitals today. Cleveland Clinic is considered one of the country's "Best Workplaces in Health Care" in Fortune and a "World's Most Ethical Company" by the Ethisphere Institute.

Dr. Cosgrove has launched major wellness initiatives for patients, employees and communities, including: banning smoking on all Cleveland Clinic campuses; adopting a policy to not hire smokers; offering employees free memberships to Weight Watchers and gyms; ridding the cafeteria of fried foods; opening weekly farmer's markets in the summer and fall; and creating an employee health insurance program that offers discounts for physical activity or for enrollment in a disease management program.

Anchored in Cleveland on its 165-acre main campus, Cleveland Clinic's name is well known around the world for its clinical excellence. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi opened in May 2015; Cleveland Clinic Toronto just celebrated its tenth year; and Cleveland Clinic London is expected to begin seeing patients in 2020. Locally, Cleveland Clinic recently opened a new state-of-the-art hospital in Avon. And in Weston, Fla., Cleveland Clinic Florida is constructing a new five-story tower.

Under Dr. Cosgrove's innovative leadership, he also envisioned "same-day" medical appointments that opened access to 1.5 million same-day appointments for patients in 2016. He also is committed to new ways to allow patients to access care anytime, anywhere, with walk-in appointments, virtual visits by phone or tablet, and more.

Dr. Cosgrove received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, completing his clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and Brook General Hospital in London. His undergraduate work was at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.

He was a surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and served in Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, as the Chief of U.S. Air Force Casualty Staging Flight. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Republic of Vietnam Commendation Medal.

Joining Cleveland Clinic in 1975, Dr. Cosgrove was named chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular surgery in 1989. Under his leadership, Cleveland Clinic's heart program was ranked No. 1 in America for 10 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report, a distinction that has remained for 22 successive years. He has published nearly 450 journal articles, book chapters, authored "The Cleveland Clinic Way" and developed 17 training and continuing medical education films. As an innovator, Dr. Cosgrove has 30 patents filed for developing medical and clinical products used in surgical environments.

Dr. Cosgrove is a 2016 Fortune Businessperson of the Year (#14), has topped Inside Business's "Power 100" listing for Northeast Ohio, is highly ranked among Modern Healthcare's "100 most powerful people in healthcare" and "most powerful physician executives," and is an inductee of the Cleveland Medical Hall of Fame.

Dr. Cosgrove has been consulted by successive presidential administrations, serving on the Veterans Administration Commission on Care (2015) and the current White House Strategic and Policy Forum.


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