The new wealth

In the Cleveland Clinic’s 2002 annual report, Dr. Floyd Loop, chairman and CEO wrote, “Knowledge continues to be the new wealth.” If there is one organization knows and acts upon this, it’s the Cleveland Clinic.

For years, the Clinic’s reputation has attracted foreign dignitaries, politicians and celebrities as patients. It’s been known that to get the best medical care in the world, you come to Cleveland.

The Clinic employs 1,100 full-time physicians, and the hospital represents more 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In 2002, there were more than 2.2 million outpatients visits, and patients came from every state and more than 80 countries.

But cutting-edge surgery and superior patient care is just a drop in the bucket for today’s medical facilities.

As CEO and chairman of the Clinic Foundation, Loop juggles many priorities. The Clinic is not just a hospital, it is an educational, research, patient care, emergency service and technology center.

And the Clinic under Loop is determined to continue to compete on a national basis.

“The Cleveland Clinic enters 2003 with a distinct clarity of purpose,” he says. “Our principal objective is to become the No. 1 academic medical center in America.

Cleveland’s reputation has always been helped by the presence of the Clinic, but there are synergies between the community and the Clinic. Last year, for example, the Clinic joined with Case Western Reserve University to create The Cleveland Clinic College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.

“Our new medical school, which will commence in July 2004, is the second new medical school in the United States in the past 26 years,” says Loop. “It is unique in the United States because it is devoted solely to the education of physician-investigators, i.e. scientists that relate to basic research, biomedical engineering, informatics or clinical research.”

In a time when our area is experiencing disturbing levels of brain drain, the Clinic constantly brings in the best and brightest from around the world.

“The Cleveland Clinic attracts a variety of talent,” Loop says. “(It) is based on our staff model and the integration of science, education and patient care. Great scientists and great physicians make great medical centers.”

And great medical centers need funding.

As the city benefits from the Clinic’s talent pool, it has also benefited from the generous nature of the community. One contributor alone — the late Al Lerner and his wife — gave $100 million, the largest single contribution ever to a medical facility, to the titular Lerner Research Institute.

With annual research expenditures exceeding $150 million from federal agencies, nonfederal societies and associations, and endowment funds, the LRI is the fifth-largest research institute in the country.

If it is somewhat surreal that such a huge research facility is in our backyard, it’s even more incredible that if you live in Northeast Ohio, you are within driving distance of the nation’s finest heart center.

This year, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center No. 1 on its list of the best heart and heart surgery hospitals.

This reputation of innovative medical practices is so widely accepted that in 2002, the Clinic was host to a two-hour, live nationally telecast program in which one of its surgeon performed heart surgery.

Determined to capitalize on its strengths, under Loop’s direction the Clinic is proceeding with what will be the largest building project in the Clinic’s history — the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center.

“With nearly a million square feet of floor space, it will centralize all the heart services and free up hundreds of thousands of square feet of space in our existing facilities,” Loop says.

The continual growth of the Clinic can only be sustained with a balanced mix of medicine, technology and funding.

Technology innovation and commercialization, as well as patient access to care and prescriptions, are major issues on the forefront of today’s health care industry, and Loop is aware of what this means both here and outside the area.

“Heath care is the leading issue of our generation,” says Loop. “The field of medicine offers more opportunities to enrich human life today than at any time in history. Our greatest gift is hope.” How to reach: Cleveland Clinic Foundation,