In Our Backyard: MetroHealth Main Campus Transformation Project

If you follow the Historic Scranton Corridor past The Tappan and Wagner Awning, you’ll eventually come to MetroHealth System’s main campus—which is currently undergoing a significant transformation. The hospital’s campus is nearing the finish line for the first phase of its transformation project, which adds an 11-floor hospital known as the Glick Center to the campus. However, this transformative expansion isn’t just designed to increase Metro’s capacity for care and add hospital beds. Rather, the Glick Center is just one component of a billion-dollar project that serves as the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort.

Since so many of our community members work in the medical field as resident physicians, nurses, and administrators generally and at MetroHealth specifically, we wanted to break down a few of the major highlights of this milestone project taking place just a few miles from Tremont.

MetroHealth System's Campus Transformation Project

Building in Phases

The transformation project began with a three-year phase that focused on building the Glick Center, which is the centerpiece of the Apex Project. Once this new building is open to the public, the project will move on to its second phase, during which the hospital’s existing Outpatient Plaza will be demolished. As Steven Litt reported, the Outpatient Plaza functioned as a wall along West 25th Street, “sending a virtual “keep out” message to the surrounding community.”

To create a more welcoming environment, the plaza will be replaced with a park space. It will stretch over nearly eight acres of land, and will become the largest outdoor public green space in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

A Hospital in a Park

In 2019, the Trust for Public Land identified the Clark-Fulton neighborhood as one of the five Cleveland neighborhoods that were most in need of a new park. Adding this public green space to the hospital’s campus will convert a significant portion of this gray neighborhood, ultimately helping to create a more welcoming neighborhood.

In a statement released by MetroHealth, president Dr. Akram Boutros said that the project “paves the way for us to deliver on our promise to the community for a hospital in a park. It will result in less asphalt and concrete and more green space.” With the addition of this park, the total amount of green space on Metro’s main campus will be approximately 12 acres—or nearly 25 percent of the campus.

The project has been nationally recognized for environmental sustainability, and will be the first hospital-led certified EcoDistrict in the country. The protocols for such a district require that the transformation project team focus not just on environmental issues, but also look to address the root causes of inequity. In creating this new MetroHealth Community District, the project team looked “to reduce unjust health and socioeconomic disparities in this neighborhood, [thereby creating] a model for enhancing the overall health, wellbeing, and resilience of Clark-Fulton and other communities like it.”

Local Partners and Stakeholders

The transformation project relied on collaborators from across the City of Cleveland, including Ward 14 Councilwoman Jasmin Santana, the Metro West Community Development Organization, The Cleveland Foundation, a cohort of eight resident ambassadors, and the city itself. The project team additionally included 26 local firms, including ten that were minority- or women-owned businesses.

MetroHealth’s Past and Present

Overall, this transformation project is in keeping with MetroHealth’s past and present. Founded in 1837 as the City of Cleveland’s first public hospital, MetroHealth was created in response to many Clevelanders’ inability to afford basic medical care. The hospital came to act as a safety net for residents, providing care regardless of their ability to pay.

Today, that founding mission continues to inform MetroHealth’s practice. As Dr. Boutros has noted, “every patient, whether economically needy or economically comfortable, gets the same attention—full attention—from our staff.” This attention extends beyond emergent care to more preventative approaches for individuals and communities.

This commitment is exemplified in various projects within the hospital system, including the Institute for Health, Opportunity, Partnership, and Empowerment (HOPE), which focuses on establishing good health beyond medical care and supports patients with non-medical needs such as finding healthy food, stable housing, and job training.

Breaking down the literal walls that surround the main campus to create a more welcoming, integrated community will undoubtedly further the impact of this commitment. The Glick Center is set to open to patients this October. You can learn more about the project by reviewing the construction timeline.