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Beyond the Cleveland Clinic’s No. 2 ranking is health care’s growing importance for NE Ohio: editorial

September 5, 2018

Beyond the Cleveland Clinic’s No. 2 ranking is health care’s growing importance for NE Ohio: editorial

For the third year in a row, the Cleveland Clinic has been named the nation’s No. 2 hospital in U.S. News & World Report rankings. Its numerical score -- based on 16 specialties and nine procedures and conditions -- considers such measures as patient safety and survival, the medical complexity of those treated, nursing staffing and, in certain specialties, reputational measures. The Clinic’s total score was only 7 percent behind the top-ranked Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and 37 percent ahead of 10th-ranked New York-Presbyterian in New York City. 

The Clinic also ranked first in cardiology and heart care nationally for the 24th straight year. And it scored another first in urology and made the top five in 10 other adult specialties.

The rankings underscore Cleveland’s pre-eminence in medical care statewide, with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center -- home to Ohio’s only women’s hospital -- ranked the second best hospital in Ohio overall, and No. 6 nationally in neonatology. UH received the survey’s highest ranking in eight of nine nationally rated procedures and conditions. (The Clinic got the highest ranking in all nine, including heart bypass surgery.) 

Why does this matter?

There are nearly 12 billion local reasons, all with dollars attached.

That’s the local economic impact of the region’s hospitals in terms of direct and indirect jobs, according to the latest Center for Health Affairs report, based on 2015 data. The center advocates for local hospitals.

On top of local hospitals’ $11.5 billion wage impact in Northeast Ohio - 15 percent more than in the center’s last report, which was based on 2010 data -- were nearly $4 billion in state and local tax impacts and $1.8 billion in annual community benefits, the center found.

The Clinic -- Ohio’s second-largest employer -- did its own economic impact study in 2015, using 2013 data, and estimated its statewide impact at $12.6 billion, including wages, purchases, construction outlays, visitors’ economic impact, taxes and community benefits. Most of that impact was in Northeast Ohio, including close to $191 million spent by visitors coming to the Clinic.

Overall for all hospitals in the region, the Center for Health Affairs report found that nearly 17 percent of regional hospital revenue came from patients from outside Northeast Ohio.

Ohio’s largest and third largest employers are retailers (Walmart at No. 1 and Kroger at No. 3) -- but Walmart with 172 retail locations and five distribution centers had only 400 more employees (out of 50,200 total) than the Clinic with its primary position in Cuyahoga County. UH ranked 7th in the state as an employer, with 26,000.

That all packs a powerful local economic punch.

Yes, health care’s economic gains in Cuyahoga County contrast in potentially troubling ways with health care disparities in the region -- particularly in parts of Cleveland near both UH and the Clinic. But local hospitals, including the MetroHealth System, are working to address those disparities -- as a notable example, contributing the leadership, large amounts of staff time and other resources to the county’s big push to reduce infant mortality. That’s an effort likely to have other positive health spinoffs for Cleveland’s most disadvantaged communities.

For all these reasons, the prominence and quality of Cleveland’s medical care, recognized nationally, is worth celebrating. 

About our editorials: Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer -- the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization.  

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