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Cleveland Clinic provides spark for region, plans 1,800 new jobs

Cleveland Clinic is looking to add jobs in 2010.
Cleveland Clinic is looking to add jobs in 2010.
The Cleveland Clinic may have hemorrhaged millions of dollars during this recession, but the setback hasn't stopped the prestigious healthcare organization as a regional growth catalyst poised to bring life back into a lagging job market and local economy.

Founded in 1921 by four community physicians, the Cleveland Clinic has developed into a powerful economic engine, one that is constantly changing the employment landscape in Northeast Ohio. While many other area employers have trimmed staff or kept employment steady in recent months, the Clinic is making plans for the addition of 1,800 jobs this year at its Cleveland campus in University Circle — just what a community battered by an economic downturn needs.

To help put things in perspective: The only company that employs more people in Ohio than the Cleveland Clinic is Wal-Mart. And, of the 40,000 employed by the Cleveland Clinic, 37,000 are employed in Northeast Ohio.

Excluding physicians, the average salary is between $45,000 and $50,000, according to the hospital's human resources department. The clinic has operations in Canada, Florida, Las Vegas and a new hospital opening up in the United Arab Emirates.

That's not just a powerful presence, but a global one — one that is noticed within the industry and by those drawn by the Clinic's reputation for innovation and medical excellence.

For the 15th year in a row, Cleveland Clinic's Heart Center has ranked No. 1 in cardiac care in the nation, as demonstrated in the July 16 issue of U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals." The Clinic has also appeared in dozens of other local and national publications.

Stars like Oprah Winfrey and Robin Williams have sought out treatment at the Clinic. President Barack Obama made stop at the Clinic to see what all the buzz was about in July 2009, after the hospital system was cited by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care as a model for how hospitals should be run financially.

Tracey Nichols, the director of economic development for the City of Cleveland, says the Clinic is one of a handful of entities in the region that can serve as an economic engine.

"I think one of the most important things about the Cleveland Clinic is that they are an anchor institution," she says. "From that perspective, they help us attract other businesses to the region."

Nichols says that while industrial manufacturing jobs haven't completely disappeared, they haven't expanded much either.

"The way things have changed is that certain industries may have become more productive, but there are less jobs," she says, pointing out a shift in the job demand. "We are becoming a bio-tech hub.

And Nichols says the Cleveland Clinic is at the heart of that innovation.

Three million square feet of hospital was added to the main campus in 2008 with opening of the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion (home of the Heart & Vascular Institute) and Glickman Tower (which houses the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute).

In the stylish and new Heart & Vascular Institute, George Rouse works as an assistant nurse manager at the Miller Pavilion.

Rouse, previously a computer programmer for an Akron manufacturer, knows what it's like to be in the middle of a shifting job market.

"I sat in a corner office," he says. "I thought 'what am I going to do when I am 70 and realize that I've sat in the corner my whole life?' I started looking around, and I looked at nursing."

Rouse, 43, began taking part-time classes at the University of Akron, and in his last year of school was hired at the Cleveland Clinic. He now teaches nursing classes part-time at Cuyahoga Community College, in addition to his post at the Clinic.

"I hear a lot of people who are going to nursing school who used to do something else," he says. "All of them were people who already had degrees in something else and came back for nursing."

Rouse is the poster-child for the changing job market in Ohio — from blue-collar jobs to skilled positions that require scrubs.
And he doesn't mind being the spokesperson for the movement.

"Everyone knows I am a Cleveland Clinic cheerleader," he says. "I love the Cleveland Clinic. I will never leave. They are fair and good to me. It's a really good place to work."

Joe Patrnchak, chief human resources officer at the Cleveland Clinic, says the Clinic has capitalized on the fact that manufacturing jobs are not coming back.

"The employment landscape in Northeast Ohio has dramatically changed, and the Clinic has played a large role in that," Patrnchak says. "Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industry sectors in the U.S., and in the world."

The Clinic is not just seeking out the résumés of doctors and nurses. Positions for managers, accountants, technicians — and even human resources officers — are filled regularly.

"If you look at healthcare institutions as business operations, there are a lot of jobs out there that are not oriented toward clinical positions," Patrnchak says. "The Cleveland Clinic is all about serving the patient, we all really see ourselves that way. For every physician, it takes 18 people to serve a patient."

Patrnchak calls the — count them — 1,800 jobs to be filled this year a "conservative" estimate.

"The majority of this hiring will be strengthening our nursing model across the entire healthcare system," he says.

Patrnchak says there is a "mini bio-tech" sector forming in Northeast Ohio, spawned from research and development at area healthcare institutions.

"What attracts the best surgeons in the world is that our research is all about driving greater clinical outcomes," he says. "Our research and academics support patients first… Everyone here is encouraged to innovate, from the lab straight to the bedside — it's tangible and it energizes the workforce."
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