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Toby Cosgrove, M.D., Stepping Down As Cleveland Clinic President, CEO

May 1, 2017
by Heather Landi
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After nearly 13 years as president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, Toby Cosgrove, M.D., announced on Monday that he is stepping down at the end of this year.

Cosgrove announced a staff meeting Monday that he has decided to begin a succession process to transition out of the top executive role later this year, according to a Cleveland Clinic news release.

According to the health system, a succession process for his replacement has now begun and a nominating committee will be formed. The health system’s governance committee has asked Cosgrove to continue on in an advisory role. Cosgrove’s successor will be a practicing physician, in keeping with the organization’s history as a physician-led institution, health system officials said. The new president and CEO will be jointly selected by the board of directors and board of governors, and that process is expected to be concluded in 2017.

“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 prepared statement. “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.”

In Cosgrove’s 13-year tenure, the health system has expanded locally, nationally and internationally, with multiple locations in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Canada, Abu Dhabi, and, in 2020, London, according to a Cleveland Clinic press release. The Cleveland Clinic’s revenues have grown from $3.7 billion in 2004 to $8.5 billion in 2016.

Cleveland Clinic board of directors chairman Bob Rich said in a statement, “The goal of any leader is to leave an institution better than you found it. Without a doubt, Toby has done that. 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.”

Recently, Cosgrove has received some backlash due to his ties to the Trump administration. Back in December, there was media speculation that Cosgrove, a cardiac surgeon and Vietnam War veteran, was being considered a candidate to head the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Washington Post had reported that Cosgrove met with Trump back in December to be interviewed for the VA Secretary post. Cosgrove currently serves as an advisor on the White House Strategic and Policy Forum.

Before becoming CEO in 2004, Cosgrove was a cardiac surgeon for nearly 30 years. In the news release, Cleveland Clinic officials said, “As president and CEO, 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, according to the press release.

According to the health system, 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 hired the first Chief Patient Experience Officer to focus on the experiential, physical and emotional aspects of patient care. In addition, he demonstrated a commitment to new ways to allow patients to access care anytime, anywhere, with walk-in appointments and virtual visits by phone or tablet.

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. 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.

Cosgrove also served on the Veterans Administration Commission on Care during the Obama Administration in 2015.

 

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