“Cleveland’s University Hospitals engaged local firms, especially female-and minority-owned contractors, at levels never before seen in Northeast Ohio.”
We’ve all seen a TV doctor slap the defibrillator paddles onto a flat-lining patient’s chest and magically jolt him back to life.
We expect our hospitals to resuscitate and heal people. Yet today, we’re discovering that hospitals can apply a life-giving socioeconomic jolt to an entire region. Simply by consciously using their inherent leverage as major regional employers and purchasers, hospitals can generate wealth, break down diversity barriers, empower surrounding neighborhoods, and benefit from the process all at once.
University Hospitals, a large Cleveland-based health system, is a case study and a national model. In 2005, UH developed a $1.2 billion strategic expansion plan with a deliberate and innovative goal: to prove that values-based decision making, collaboration and accountability can boost local businesses, nurture prosperity and advance diversity and inclusion.
UH engaged local firms, especially female-and minority-owned contractors, at levels never before seen in Northeast Ohio. The health-care system worked with the City of Cleveland, contractors and organized labor to set ambitious inclusion goals. Then UH hired a third-party monitor to hold UH accountable – very publicly.
By the project’s end in 2011, UH had surpassed its goal for including women-owned businesses by 40 percent, and for minority contractors by 13 percent. It exceeded the local-spend target by 15 percent. And UH now includes more diverse vendors in all purchasing under new procurement policies.
The change is sustainable: Other major construction projects are following suit – and drawing from a more diverse pool of qualified contractors and tradespeople. Local supply-chain vendors are adding jobs. Cleveland is a better place for UH and its employees to live and do business.
The UH blueprint now challenges other civic institutions – hospitals, universities and even for-profit corporations – to embrace this “new normal.”
Vision 2010 and Cleveland provide a new vision for cities everywhere.
Stephen D. Standley is the Chief Administrative Officer at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. Reach him on Twitter at @UHhospitals.
Read the whole “Hospitals as Neighbors” collection:
• An Empty Hospital Stands in Trenton by Tiana Thomas of Trenton, New Jersey
• What Boston Neighborhoods Want by Juan Leyton of Boston, Massachusetts
• New IRS Regulations Create Opportunity by Dayna Cunningham of MIT