Cleveland Clinic, UH learn from pandemic collaboration

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals jointly published a white paper detailing how the two historical competitors collaborated throughout the pandemic — and how the lessons learned in their COVID-19 response lay the roadmap for the future.

The two systems worked on some initiatives with other regional hospitals as well, including MetroHealth, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, Firelands Regional Medical Center and Southwest General Medical Center, according to the paper.

“This necessitated collaboration across traditional silos, suspension of ego, and a willingness to explore creative relationships to address a set of immediate and critical needs,” the white paper states. “Of course disaster response plans were already in place, but our systems weren’t expecting a devastating event of this magnitude and duration to appear as fast as this one did.”

Despite the challenges, the systems were able to find common ground, and along the way learned a lot about pandemics, public health, health care delivery, collaboration and how to better prepare for future public health challenges, according to the paper, titled “STRONGER TOGETHER: University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic – COVID-19 Observations, Lessons Learned, Partnership and Roadmap for the Future.”

UH and the Clinic collaborated on everything from data analytics to legal efforts. As personal protective equipment and lifesaving equipment like ventilators were in short supply, each system worked aggressively to find avenues to create solutions to fill any shortfalls.

They were both engaged in COVID-19 research and worked together with the state and other partners to coordinate vaccine distribution and administration.

UH and the Clinic also joined together to produce multilingual COVID-19 resource guides and undertook additional collaborative community outreach and education efforts with other partners.

Now that the pandemic has fostered a unique, collaborative response, UH and the Clinic have pledged to work together to address other public health needs in the region, “while advancing Cleveland as a nationally and globally recognized center of health care excellence,” according to the paper.

It highlights four key areas of focus:

• Battling the opioid epidemic

• Expanding research

• Improving talent recruitment

• Bolstering training and creating jobs for Ohio

“While we will continue to compete, by joining forces for larger public health challenges, we can create powerful scale that can help us better solve issues facing our communities,” the paper states. “Cleveland Clinic and UH will serve to advance the health of our communities by aligning on the issues and concerns that matter most in the lives of our patients and caregivers.”


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