As an anchor institution, Cleveland Clinic’s community support goes beyond healthcare services, as it promotes the physical and economic health of its neighborhoods.
Today, the healthcare system took another step toward that goal by pledging $50 million to the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition and the United Way of Greater Cleveland to identify and remove harmful sources of lead exposure from Cleveland homes.
This is in addition to a multitude of other initiatives Cleveland Clinic has undertaken to help improve our neighborhoods, including efforts to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, expand supplier diversity, address food insecurity, support economic development and job creation, provide high-speed internet to surrounding neighborhoods , and expand pediatric care to underserved populations, among others.
In 2022, Cleveland Clinic will continue those efforts, while making lead poisoning prevention its top community priority.
For generations, Cleveland’s children have been poisoned by lead exposure at a rate four times the national average. Each year, more than 1,000 children in Cleveland are afflicted by unsafe levels of lead exposure.
Lead exposure damages the brain and nervous system. It slows growth and development, and causes learning, behavior and memory problems. Due to these damaging effects, children with elevated blood lead levels are more likely to have a learning disability, drop out of school, abuse drugs or alcohol, earn less money or commit crime.
Cleveland’s children deserve better. They deserve every chance to reach their full potential.
Communities can only be safe and healthy when every person in them is safe and healthy. Cleveland Clinic’s goal is to create the healthiest communities for everyone. It is working toward that goal in many ways beyond providing healthcare, including:
- Spearheading efforts to address food insecurity: In December, Cleveland Clinic partnered with the City of Cleveland, Meijer, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation and Fairmount Properties to break ground on a $52.8 million development that will include a new 40,000-square-foot grocery market and 196 apartment units in the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland. The project create a healthier community by addressing food insecurity, supporting economic development in the area, and providing a new shopping destination for customers from surrounding neighborhoods.
- Attracting, recruiting and retaining a more diverse workforce: Cleveland Clinic joined OneTen, a coalition of 37 top U.S. employers to train, hire and promote one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement over the next 10 years. OneTen has started working with Cleveland Clinic to accelerate hiring, retaining and promoting Black talent. The focus is on reducing exclusionary hiring practices, identifying robust and new talent sources, and ensuring adequate and equitable career pathways for all.
- Expanding supplier diversity: Cleveland Clinic is among 12 U.S. health systems to sign the “Impact Purchasing Commitment,” designed by the Healthcare Anchor Network. Cleveland Clinic’s Supplier Diversity Program identifies qualified diverse suppliers, including minority- and women-owned businesses, as well as locally owned, employee-owned, cooperatively owned or nonprofit-owned enterprises. In the last 10 years of the program, Cleveland Clinic has spent more than $1.1 billion with diverse suppliers. The health system’s goal is to double its 2020 spend of $80 million to $160 million by 2025.
- Providing high-speed internet to surrounding neighborhoods: Cleveland Clinic, DigitalC and two Cleveland businesses, TransDigm Group Incorporated (NYSE:TDG) and The Lubrizol Foundation, came together to provide affordable high-speed internet to residents of the Fairfax neighborhood. Disparities in internet coverage can affect access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. According to 2019 Census Bureau data, Cleveland is the worst-connected large city, with nearly 50,000 households not having reliable broadband.
- Expanding pediatric care to underserved populations: A mobile, full-service pediatric school-based healthcare program visits school districts in Northeast Ohio throughout the school year to provide any needed healthcare. Children in Cleveland public schools are disproportionately affected by poverty, and there is great need for access to primary care. The mobile unit, which acts as a full-service pediatric office, provides health and wellness services to students from kindergarten through 12th grade including: complete physical examinations, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illness; immunizations; first aid and more.
Other examples include expanding the ASPIRE Nurses Scholar Program; investing in the JobsOhio initiative; delivering Thanksgiving dinners to the community; and connecting patients with health and social organizations across Northeast Ohio which reduce barriers to care through the Unite Us program.
In nearly all of these cases, Cleveland Clinic did not make progress on our own. We worked closely with community partners and civic/business leaders to help strengthen the neighborhood we call home.
When like-minded organizations come together to identify and address community issues, they can make a difference and create a healthier community for everyone.