Advocacy & Policy

Advocacy & Policy

In 2017, Government & Community Relations Focused Much of Its Advocacy and Policy Work Around the Opioid Crisis.

Cleveland Clinic Developed an Internal Task Force to Address the Opioid Crisis

Early in 2017 former Cleveland Clinic Chief Executive Officer and President, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, spoke on CBS Morning News about the opioid epidemic, and compared it to a Vietnam War happening in our country every year, with more than fifty-three thousand people dying annually from this expanding pandemic. In 2016 drug overdoses killed more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.

In Cuyahoga County, the number of overdose deaths more than doubled from 228 in 2015 to 517 in 2016. It was estimated that without the implementation of Cuyahoga County’s Project D.A.W.N. (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone,) more than 1,000 people in Cuyahoga County would have perished from opioid overdoses in 2016.

In response to these staggering statistics, Cleveland Clinic began actively working to address the opioid crisis in Northeast Ohio by collaborating with external partners in government, law enforcement and the medical community, led by the Cuyahoga County U.S. Attorney's Office.

In January, 2017, Cleveland Clinic began its own internal Opioid Task Force, which is focused on solutions from four perspectives: education and prevention, healthcare policy and treatment, clinical prescribing, and chronic pain treatment. By the end of 2017, the Opioid Task Force had delivered 3 enterprise-wide operational recommendations that helped resolve opioid addiction.

Cleveland-Area Hospital Consortium was Formed to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Through its work in the Heroin Task Force led by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Government & Community Relations was involved in creating a consortium of Cleveland-area hospitals, which includes Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, St. Vincent Charity, and University Hospitals, to tackle the opioid epidemic together.

This consortium was formed after hospital leaders agreed in late 2016 to help fund a full-time position to lead the hospital- specific response to the crisis. Allisyn Leppla was brought on board as the consortium's executive director, a position that is housed at The Center for Health Affairs, a nonprofit advocate for Northeast Ohio hospitals.

Community Healthcare Forum: Our Nation's Opiate Epidemic

In 2017 The Cleveland Clinic Community Healthcare Forum was introduced as a new series of events taking place at the Global Center for Health Innovation aimed at discussing relevant topics in the healthcare world.

On Thursday, May 26, 2017, the forum held a panel discussion which included the 19 th United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, and the Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg. This forum was moderated by former Cleveland Clinic Chief Executive Officer and President, Dr. Toby Cosgrove.

Hundreds of leaders from various professional backgrounds attended the forum.

With at least two people dying every day in Cuyahoga County from opioids, the goal of the event was to raise the consciousness of the community about the seriousness of this problem.

Healthy Lifestyles

Healthy Lifestyles

Blessing of the Badges Honored Fallen Officers from Northeast Ohio

Thursday, March 30, 2017, marked the second annual Blessing of the Badges Ceremony, hosted by Antioch Baptist Church, in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Police Department’s Community Outreach Division, Government & Community Relations, and other community partners.

The Blessing of the Badges is an interfaith prayer ceremony that brings law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians and the community together to recognize the service and dedication of those who wear the badges that represent honor, dignity, truth and justice. Prayer was offered to all first responders for their safety, their families and their abilities as they perform their daily duties.

Commander David Wright of the Cleveland Clinic Police Department and Thomas Beers, Manager of Cleveland Clinic EMS, served as the Honorary Chairmen for the ceremony, which paid tribute to Officer David J. Fahey, Jr. of the Cleveland Police Department, Trooper Kenneth V. Velez of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Retired Firefighter Mark Horton of the Elyria Fire Department, who also served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters.

The Cleveland Clinic Police Department and South Euclid Fire Department Honor Guards opened the ceremony, followed by a welcome from Chief David Easthon of the Cleveland Clinic Police Department. The National Anthem was sung by Sgt. Kennedy Jones of the Cleveland Police Department, and remarks were given by head of the Cleveland field office of the FBI, Special Agent Jeff Fortunato.

The event was also supported by Lt. Rob Gable, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Chief Calvin Williams, Cleveland Police Department, Chief Angelo Calvillo, Cleveland Fire Department, Chief Annette Mecklenburg, Cleveland Heights Police Department and Deputy Commissioner David Miller, EMS, City of Cleveland.

Akron General Brought Record-Setting Team to Heart Walk

More than 800 Cleveland Clinic caregivers participated in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk on Saturday, August 26, 2017, giving Akron General its biggest team EVER! Cleveland Clinic Akron General caregivers joined with caregivers from Medina Hospital to help the American Heart Association raise heart health awareness. The event was held on the University of Akron campus.

Akron General president Dr. Brian Harte served as community chairperson. He gave special recognition to Medina Hospital caregivers, including Medina President Dr. Richard Shewbridge for participating for the first time in Akron’s Heart Walk, and for helping to set a record for turnout! “As chairperson for the event for the first time,” Dr. Harte said, "I couldn’t have asked for more from our team.”

Special thanks were given to the following caregivers for their help in organizing the team, fundraising, and bringing down the house with a special hands-only CPR dance routine: Sarah Arend, Karli Avellone, Erin Brady Curtis, Ryan Collins, Bobbie Gross, Katie Garland, Joe Milicia, Lindsey Wagner, Sue Hobson, Denise Williams, and Peggy Zanin.

Healthy Lifestyles Programs

Government & Community Relations is proud to offer free programs that give Northeast Ohio residents the opportunity to create healthier versions of themselves. In 2017 the team expanded the reach of our programs by bringing new initiatives to new communities, and by engaging more partner organizations and residents than ever before!

2017 was a stellar year for Government & Community Relations’ Healthy Lifestyles Programs. Here are just a few notable achievements:

Healthy Communities Initiative

Our Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) programs continued to foster collaboration between Cleveland Clinic and community partners to promote optimal health and wellness. HCI’s in Bedford Heights, Central/Kinsman, Cleveland (Harvard-Lee), Cleveland Heights -University Heights, Euclid, Fairfax, Fairview Park, Glenville, Hough, Lyndhurst, Mayfield (includes Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village, Gates Mills and Highland Heights,) Medina, North Olmsted, Ohio City/Tremont, Rocky River, West Park, and Wooster engaged over 900 people during the course of the year. The team’s goal is to introduce HCI’s in four new communities in 2018.

Health Screenings

Our Community Health Nurse (CHN) team provided 1,790 screenings in 2017 with participants attending from 84 different zip codes and 9 different counties. In collaboration with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, as part of the Daniel Plan, our CHN team provided results for over 720 individuals.

The Langston Hughes Community Health & Education Center

The team at The Langston Hughes Community Health & Education Center worked diligently in 2017 to surpass their 2016 numbers. Overall, total attendance increased by 105%, with over 8,000 community members engaging in programming. Fitness class attendance increased by 97%, and screenings went up by 135%. The addition of a third quarter HCI Six Week Health Challenge, a You Change You program, Weight Loss classes, Line Dancing classes, and Reiki Therapy sessions, increased participation in the Center’s community events and programs by 98%.

Diabetes Awareness Month

A total of 194 people attended our Diabetes Awareness month programs. Our team offered five Come Cook with Us! sessions that showed participants how to make healthier food and meal choices, as well as two diabetes awareness fairs, and four sessions of Come Learn with Us! that taught the basics of healthy living that participants could apply to diabetes prevention, management, and treatment. Over 130 attendees completed the diabetes risk assessments and had an opportunity to be connected to a diabetes educator for further explanation of what their risk assessment showed.

National Stroke Awareness Month

May was National Stroke Awareness Month, and Community Relations set out to educate the community on this very important topic by conducting educational programming at the Garfield Heights Civic Center, the South Euclid - Lyndhurst Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Reach Opportunity Center at Summit Lake, Fairview Garden Apartments and Euclid Public Library.

Caregivers from Cleveland Clinic’s Independence Family Health Center, Hillcrest Hospital, Akron General Hospital, and main campus led the “Know the Stroke Signs: BE FAST” program. Free blood pressure screenings and stroke assessments were offered at each event. Over 115 adults who attended the programs learned how to recognize stroke signs and respond appropriately to this emergency situation by remembering the acronym BE FAST: B – Balance, E – Eyes, F – Face, A – Arms, S – Speech, T – Time.

American Heart Month

February programming focused on heart health. The team held ten “Protect Your Heart: Know Your Numbers” programs throughout the regional footprint that helped participants safeguard their hearts and take charge of their lives by teaching them how to implement preventive steps and adopt a healthy lifestyle. This free program also outlined ways to identify risk factors for heart disease, and taught participants about the effects that high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and being overweight can have on their quality of life.

401 people attended these programs, which were held at Cleveland Clinic’s Brunswick Family Health Center, Lutheran Hospital and Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center, as well as Cloverleaf Recreation Center in Lodi, Euclid Public Library, French Creek Family YMCA in Avon, Garfield Heights Senior Center, Medina Community Center, Rocky River Public Library, Ross DeJohn Community Center in Mayfield Heights, Strongsville Senior Center, and Warrensville Heights Civic & Senior Center. 168 blood pressure screenings were completed by our Community Health Nurse team, and 91 heart risk assessments were provided.

Infant Mortality Education and Prevention

The Healthy You, Healthy Families program engaged over 1,000 people through support groups, hospital tours, and community baby showers that educate family members and other caregivers about the basics of safe baby care. Created in response to the high rate of infant mortality in Ohio, Healthy You, Healthy Families connects new and expectant moms and dads to community resources, support and knowledge that will help their babies thrive during their first year and beyond.

Programming is set to expand in 2018, with the addition of a pregnancy centering program at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center, which is designed to connect women to evidence-based clinical care. Sexual and Reproductive Health Classes will also be offered in East Cleveland schools, engaging young women and men in conversations about healthy relationships, pregnancy prevention, and more.

Combating the Opioid Crisis

"Heroin, Fentanyl and Carfentanil: The Triple Threat on Our Doorstep” is a series of panel discussions that bring residents, community partners and local experts together to engage in open conversation about the opioid epidemic. These events empower community members by connecting them to the resources and information they need to combat the opioid crisis. In 2017, our team brought this program to nine different communities, and engaged hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents in the conversation around opioids.

In 2017, our team also offered 24 different sessions of the Start Talking program – an initiative started by Ohio Governor John R. Kasich and First Lady Karen W. Kasich, which is designed to give parents, guardians, educators and community leaders the tools to start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about the importance of living healthy, drug-free lives.

Both programs will continue in 2018, with the goal of expanding these offerings to new communities.



Educators Shine as Students at NEO STREAM Workshop

Maneuvering oxygen through a plaque-choked artery, composing research-inspired poetry, and analyzing patient blood models were just a few of the hands-on activities that engaged educators during the Northeast Ohio Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (NEO STREAM) Conference on March 16, 2017.

Government & Community Relations team members Bryan Pflaum, Nedra Starling, and Tom Miller conducted the interactive professional development session "Authentic Learning for Life" as an Educator Day offering at the conference. The three-day event, sponsored by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Cuyahoga Community College, was organized to increase awareness and utilization of STREAM fields in Ohio.

The hands-on workshop was designed to give teachers a real feel for how Government & Community Relations’ Civic Education Department’s Clinic-Based, School-Based, and Connected Learning programs promote health and wellness, academic achievement, and career preparedness, allowing the educators to step into students' shoes. Pre- and post- session polling and Educator Day survey results leave no doubt about the workshop's success. Attendees demonstrated a significant increase in their knowledge of Civic Education and ranked "Authentic Learning for Life" as one of the best Educator Day offerings.

Government & Community Relations Team Members Participate in CMSD's Academies of Cleveland Professional Development Conference

Government & Community Relations’ Civic Education Department participated in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's Academies of Cleveland Professional Development Conference on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. The Civic Education team conducted two seminars on its K-12 Clinic-Based, School-Based, and Connected Learning programs with teachers from all five of the Academies of Cleveland Schools. The Academies of Cleveland schools are focused on career- tech programs for high school students. The teachers were thrilled with all of the opportunities that Civic Ed provides for their students and were equally appreciative of the hands-on and engaging presentation.

Vickie Johnson, Senior Director of Government & Community Relations, also participated in a panel discussion on the measures Cleveland Clinic is taking to better connect our organization to the classroom. The panel was moderated by Latonia Davis, Principal of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Career Campus, and included an audience of over fifty teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors. Ms. Johnson and several members of the Civic Education team enthusiastically shared all of the Clinic's efforts to engage students through internships and other programs that give students authentic learning experiences.

Power Washers™ Help Teachers Promote Hand Hygiene

In 2017, the influenza virus struck schools across the country during flu season, forcing several to close their doors. Here in Northeast Ohio, teachers called on a band of hygiene superheroes to help keep their students healthy.

"Power Washers™ helped my students understand the importance of hand washing," says Anita Giusto, a third grade teacher at Andrew J Rickoff School in Cleveland, "and they made the learning fun."

Water Woman, Super Soap, and Touchy Towel - the hygiene superheroes known collectively as Power Washers™ - were developed for Cleveland Clinic's Civic Education Department by 2008 Creative Learning Intern and Beachwood High School student Gabriel Firestone. The characters star in a series of online educational resources, including a Webby Award- winning music video in which the heroes battle the likes of Evil E. Coli, Mr. Mycosis, and Sally Salmonella, and a video game in which they help players virtually wash their hands.

"The children loved playing the Power Washers™ game," says Giusto. "They especially loved moving the magnifying glass over the hands to see the germs and to hear the characters say, 'EEEEEWWWWWW!!!!'"

Giusto's third graders applied what they learned from both the game and video and put their creativity to the test, developing acrostic poems about the Power Washers™ team. For Water Women, students came up with creative phrases such as We like to be clean; Eat hot dogs, but before you eat, wash your hands; and No more germs! The students produced some great poems, and according to Giusto, "They loved describing a character through the letters of his or her name."

Karen Straub, art teacher at Gesu Catholic School in University Heights, also enlisted the help of the Power Washers™, calling on the germ-fighting trio to assist in teaching her students in pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade about the importance of hand washing.

"The Power Washers™ program engages students right from the start of the video," Straub says, adding, "The bios and the game help enforce the concept of hand cleanliness."

In the art room, Straub's students brought the hygiene superheroes to life by creating their very own Power Washers™ puppets. "Students based their puppets on one character," Straub says, "and were then able to use their puppets to say the lines as the video played."

Water Woman, Super Soap, and Touchy Towel may have their own theme song and video game, but they aren't the only heroes when it comes to promoting hand hygiene this flu season. Teachers like Giusto and Straub are finding fun, creative ways to help keep their students healthy and their classrooms open. And that is nothing short of super.

Milestones Marked 2017 for Government & Community Relations’ Civic Education Department

Banner Schools - Dover Intermediate School

Since 2005, the Cleveland Clinic Office of Government and Community Relations' Civic Education Department has had the extraordinary privilege of serving the community, engaging more than 100,000 K-12 students, their parents and teachers, and Cleveland Clinic caregivers in authentic learning experiences to produce powerful outcomes in the areas of health promotion, academic achievement, and career preparedness. More than a decade after the launch of Civic Education, we're proud to say our commitment to the community and the impact of our programming have never been stronger.

In 2017 Civic Education marked numerous milestones:

  • We engaged a record 105 teachers and 1,992 students from 61 middle and high schools in eXpressions™, using project-based, peer-to peer learning to promote the creative exploration and interpretation of science.
  • We increased participation in Dangerous Decibels by more than 100%, helping 2,178 fourth and fifth graders from 30 schools understand the science of sound and how to protect their hearing.
  • We engaged 43% more students in Worldwide Classroom in September, October, and November of 2017, compared to the first three months of the previous school year, empowering 1,705 middle and high school students to make healthy lifestyle choices and to explore health science and medicine career paths.
  • We launched the Cleveland Clinic Banner Schools initiative to provide added recognition to schools that go "above and beyond" in leveraging Civic Education programming to advance student learning.
  • We began the commercialization of our intellectual property, licensing our Adventures in Health Science and Medicine® (AHSM) program to an out-of-state healthcare provider to generate revenue and increased brand awareness for Cleveland Clinic while providing free access to the program for schools beyond Northeast Ohio.

The entire Civic Education team is proud of the positive impact our programming has had on students and teachers in 2017, and we look forward to even greater milestones in 2018.

Economic Vitality

Economic Vitality

Cleveland Clinic Enterprise Service Day at Medwish International

On Friday, March 24, 2017, more than 40 Cleveland Clinic caregivers volunteered their time at the first quarter enterprise-wide service event at MedWish International - a not-for-profit organization that saves lives and the environment by repurposing discarded medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid in developing countries.

Working in teams, caregivers sorted, packed and labeled hundreds of pounds of medical supplies which will soon be transported to the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, as well as many other locations. This experience is just one of the many ways Cleveland Clinic is supporting the community through service, donations and other resources.

Cleveland Clinic & Rebuilding Together Northeast Ohio

On September 21, 2017, Over 30 Cleveland Clinic caregivers landscaped, painted, power washed, swept and planted along Grandview Road in the Buckeye-Woodland neighborhood as part of our third quarter enterprise-wide community service day.

More than 10 homes were addressed and beautified as part of the day-long activity. Neighborhood residents joined the efforts, and assisted in the hard work of cleaning, trimming, pruning, mulching and gardening on a very warm day.

Cleveland Clinic has engaged in community service with Rebuilding Together Northeast Ohio, a core community partner, for the past several years. Rebuilding Together is part of a national organization with more than 150 affiliates across the United States, making them the largest home repair and renovation program in the country. To date, more than 3,000 homeowners have been served in our regional service area. Rebuilding Together has offices in Valley View and Akron, Ohio.

Cleveland Clinic Caregivers & Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity

On Friday, August 4, 2017, over 40 Cleveland Clinic caregivers performed community service for Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. Cleveland Clinic's Community Relations Department partners with Habitat during the third quarter of every year to help existing homeowners in the neighborhoods surrounding main campus with exterior home repairs and minor landscaping projects. When inclement weather forced this year's event indoors, the service opportunity was moved to Habitat's main warehouse and ReStore facility.

Caregivers cleaned and repaired items that will eventually be sold in the Restore facility, organized, took inventory, and provided other vital services that will help future Habitat construction projects throughout Northeast Ohio run more smoothly.

Caregivers and Community Members Transform Lots into Parks

Cleveland Clinic caregivers, residents of Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood, members of the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation, and Cleveland Clinic's high school interns came together on Friday, July 28, 2017, to build "pocket parks."

The group worked to transform three lots along several blocks of Cedar Avenue near main campus — planting trees, shrubs and other landscaping. The surface parking lots were previously used by construction workers who built the new Taussig Cancer Center and other Cleveland Clinic buildings.

The high school interns were participants in the 2017 Cleveland Clinic Louis Stokes Internship Program, a six-week program focused on workforce readiness in which Cleveland and East Cleveland high school students have the opportunity to work and learn alongside Cleveland Clinic caregivers.

2017 Community Service Events at Greater Cleveland Food Bank

On Friday, December 8, 2017, over 40 Cleveland Clinic caregivers sorted, packed, peeled, cooked and cleaned at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for the fourth quarter Enterprise Community Service Day.

This annual service event brings together caregivers from locations throughout Northeast Ohio to assist Food Bank staff with important tasks, all geared to providing food, information and vital services to children and families who suffer from hunger or food insecurity.

2017 Summer Internship Programs for Northeast Ohio Students

The Healthcare+ Pathways® Internship Program kicked off its fifth year on Monday, June 12, 2017. Fifteen rising high school freshmen from middle schools across Northeast Ohio spent two weeks learning from world-renowned healthcare professionals at Cleveland Clinic and educators from Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, building a strong foundation in research, science, and medicine, as well as learning financial literacy basics and business management. Final group research projects focused on the senses and innovative ideas to combat related health issues.

The NEOREMA™ (Northeast Ohio Research Education Medicine Alliance) Internship Program kicked off its seventh year on Monday, June 26, 2017. Twenty-one rising high school sophomores from across Northeast Ohio spent four weeks engrossed in hands-on individual and group projects in academic, clinical, and laboratory settings. The first two weeks were spent learning about the complexities of patient care and the critical role research plays in the world of medicine. Activities were directed by healthcare professionals at Cleveland Clinic and professors from Cuyahoga Community College. The last two weeks of the program were spent in residence at Kent State University where students complete two college-level courses and experience "college life!"

The Cleveland Clinic Louis Stokes Internship Program kicked off its second year on Monday, June 19, 2017. Sixty-seven rising high school sophomores and juniors from Cleveland and East Cleveland spent six weeks participating in field trips, independent and group research projects, workshops and presentations, and working with their assigned Cleveland Clinic mentors to learn about non-clinical careers in health care. New this year is the two-week Boot Camp that launched the six-week program. This component focused on workplace readiness and professionalism.

The Science Internship Program marked the start of its thirteenth year on June 5, 2017. Comprised of ten different tracks (Applied Medicine, Creative Learning, Health Horizons, Laboratory Medicine, Nursing Care, Pharmacy, Public Health, Radiology, Respiratory Care, and Translational Medicine), this nine-week internship experience engaged seventy-eight rising high school juniors and seniors from across Northeast Ohio in hands-on learning opportunities. Interns were expected to assist their mentor(s) with an IRB-approved research project. At the completion of the program, each intern produced a research poster, PowerPoint presentation, and video summarizing the findings of their assigned research project.