Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE
President and CEO
The MetroHealth System
In his four years as the President and CEO of MetroHealth, the public health system in Cleveland, Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, has galvanized political leaders, entrepreneurs and the public around supporting community-wide health care many had taken for granted.
With his unwavering commitment to delivering high-quality health care to everyone in Cuyahoga County, Akram Boutros has achieved what many thought was impossible. Under his leadership, The MetroHealth System went to market on its own credit in 2017 and sold $946 million in bonds to rebuild its hospital, revitalize its main campus and resurrect its West Side neighborhood.
That is just one piece of the unprecedented transformation of Cuyahoga County’s public health care system Dr. Boutros has piloted since he arrived at MetroHealth in 2013.
In the four years since, he has created an Integrated Delivery System that provides care at more than 20 community health centers, four emergency departments, four clinics in Discount Drug Mart stores, five MetroExpressCare locations and nine pharmacies. Those are in addition to MetroHealth’s main-campus hospital, which is home to the area’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center, one of two adult and pediatric burn centers in the state and Ohio’s only Ebola Treatment Center.
Now a more than $1 billion operation, MetroHealth and its caregivers treat patients at more than 1.3 million visits a year.
In the past four years, The MetroHealth System has also created more than 1,200 additional jobs, sent doctors into a dozen Cleveland schools and constructed an $82 million addition to its Critical Care Pavilion. Annual operating revenues have grown from $783 million in 2012 to $1 billion in 2016. And last year, MetroHealth returned $226 million – 22 percent of its operating expenses – to Cuyahoga County in free care and community benefit programs. That is 2.5 times the national average.
An internist with a 25-year record of successful hospital leadership at academic medical centers, community hospitals and specialty hospitals, Dr. Boutros cultivates personal relationships throughout the hospital system and the community along with an atmosphere of personal excellence for everyone he works with.
A graduate of St. John’s University, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, he has led organizations through strategic repositioning, operational redesign, clinical and physician integration and population-health and risk-contracting programs. He sees collaboration with other health systems, organizations and local residents as a key driver in fulfilling MetroHealth’s mission of leading the way to a healthier community.
In addition to his honorary chairmanship of this year’s Cleveland Jingle Bell Run, his community service includes chairing the American Heart Association 2015 Cleveland Heart Ball, the most successful in the city’s history, and serving on the boards of:○ America’s Essential Hospitals
○ American Hospital Association Section for Metro Hospitals Governing Council
○ Cleveland Ballet
○ Cuyahoga Community College Foundation
○ Global Center for Health Innovation
○ Greater Cleveland Food Bank
○ Greater Cleveland Partnership
○ The MetroHealth Foundation
○ Select Assurance Captive
○ United Way of Greater Cleveland
Some of his recent awards include being named:○ The American Red Cross 2016 Community Leader
○ One of the 100 Physician Leaders of Hospitals and Health Systems by Becker’s Hospital Review
○ EY 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year for Community Impact in Northeast Ohio
○ A 2015 nominee for Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare
○ One of Northeast Ohio’s Power 150 by Crain’s Cleveland Business
○ To Inside Business Magazine’s Power 100 list
Caren Nakhooda was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) 13 years ago. “I started feeling back and hip pain every morning and thought ‘do I need to exercise more or less? Should I start stretching? Do I have an injury?’” said Caren. “Being active my entire life, I found living with chronic pain to be a scary, new territory.”
As the year went on, and it was increasingly difficult to get moving in the morning and perform daily tasks, Caren knew it was time to seek help. Although it was difficult to even find the correct diagnosis, her doctors eventually informed her the pain was in fact due to arthritis, specifically AS.
Caren continued to stay active after her diagnosis exercising regularly and playing volleyball as she had most of her life. After graduating from Ursuline College and getting her master’s degree at John Carroll University, Caren went on to teach in Cleveland and coach volleyball and basketball. “I was able to stay active with my students and players,” said Caren. “I remember the school nurse giving me my injections during the week because I was nervous to do it myself - I was living with arthritis.”
After a few years, Caren took a break from teaching and coaching to have her three children, Colleen (11), Casey (9) and Duncan (7). Keeping active was often difficult for Caren because she was off her medication for long periods of time while pregnant. Luckily, there were enough good health periods that she could capitalize on and pursue her fitness goals.
“I began running regularly when my youngest child was 2 years old,” said Caren. “I completed two full marathons and many half marathons. More importantly, I found so much joy in running. I loved the community, the physical elation of completing a race, and the mental benefits of training for one. Unfortunately, my arthritis flare ups have set me back these last couple of years, and thus the Jingle Bell Run marks a new beginning.”
Caren’s husband, Azim, became involved with the Arthritis Foundation a few years ago to both learn more about Caren’s disease and advocate for its cure. “His support during the highs and lows of my diagnosis is immeasurable,” said Caren. “I couldn’t begin to imagine my journey with our three kids without Azim’s patience and support. I was also introduced to my doctor through the resources of the Arthritis Foundation. Her diligence, care, concern, and determination to find some answers for me have been extremely valuable.”
Caren says only others like her can fully relate to the impact of arthritis on someone who aspires to live life to the fullest. Whether it is getting out of bed, the daily fatigue or simply moving comfortably throughout the day – the disease presents a challenge. “Thankfully, the Arthritis Foundation has many resources for us to continue our daily battles. I feel fortunate that I am active again in different ways and I look forward to joining others who will run or walk the Jingle Bell Run for this great cause, I will be right there with you.”
To join or donate to Caren Nakhooda’s Jingle Bell Run team, please click HERE.
8 Years Old
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Greyson Chess was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) when he was just 4 years old. Now 8 years old, Greyson’s favorite activities include drawing, especially monsters, playing the drums, playing sports, especially soccer, lacrosse, skiing and snowboarding with friends, family and teammates.
Like so many other kids, if Greyson didn’t tell you he has JRA, you wouldn’t even know.
“When I am active, my joints hurt but you'll never hear me complain, ever,” said Greyson. “I will not let JRA slow me down and if I'm being honest, I’ll tell you arthritis is horrible and you don't want to get it. I feel pretty lucky that it only effects my eyes, knees and ankles. Many kids have it way worse than me.”
Every day Greyson fights this disease. At first, he couldn't understand why he had it and why it wouldn't go away. But now, Greyson’s view is that he’s faced with this challenge because he can handle it.
“It won't stop me from having fun in life,” said Greyson. “I won't let it slow me down. It has made me tough; at least that's what my parents tell me every day. And, in some ways it has helped inspire me. When I grow up, I want to be an arthritis doctor so I can help kids like me and we can find a cure.”
The Chess family is grateful to the Arthritis Foundation for it's support and helping them better understanding what arthritis is, what to expect and how to deal with it. More importantly, they say, it has given them a community of support and resources to connect with other kids and families who understand what it's like to live with JRA. “I couldn't do this on my own,” said Greyson. “It's nice to know I don't have to.”
“I am Greyson Chess and I am very proud to be the youth honoree for the 2017 Jingle Bell Run. I look forward to running the race alongside all the tough kids out there and the people and organizations that love and support them. We will not let JRA stop us. Ever! Please join me and my team, Greyson's Superheroes, on Sunday December 10. Let's come together to support the 300,000 kids in America who battle JRA every day!”
To join or donate to Greyson Chess' Jingle Bell Run team, please click HERE.