If you were to fly over University of Cincinnati Medical Center in one of our gleaming red and black helicopters, what would you see? A large complex of buildings, walkways and helipads, right? Now, imagine that you could put on a pair of x-ray-vision goggles and look deep inside those hospital hallways and teeming laboratories. You would see compassionate and often heroic medical care, you would see scientists searching for tomorrow’s cures and you would likely feel very proud to have such a world-class academic health center in your community.
As president and CEO of UC Medical Center, sometimes even I need to step back and take a long view of what we do and accomplish every day. Invariably, it is a source of amazement and pride. As our region’s only academic medical center, UC Medical Center fulfills a tripartite mission that is grounded in patient care and quality health outcomes. We provide nationally and internationally recognized specialty care, and through the UC College of Medicine we educate hundreds of physician leaders and conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in federally funded research each year.
Our rich history spans nearly 200 years. Established in 1823, UC Medical Center was the first hospital in Ohio and the first in the nation to be founded primarily for teaching purposes. In 1960 Dr. Albert Sabin developed the oral polio vaccine here, and in 1970 we started the first Emergency Medicine Resident Program in the United States.
Today we are a lean, strong and comprehensive health care system with four hospitals, 19 primary care locations and a 700-member sub-specialty physician group, operating as UC Physicians. We serve many counties, employ 10,000 associates, have a total budget of $1.2 billion, and manage more than 1.2 million patient encounters in a single year.
We excel in a number of areas: We are one of three expert training centers for military personnel through the Institute of Military Medicine, a unique partnership with the United States Air Force. Our C-STARS program has trained over 700 military medics for trauma and critical care deployment overseas.
Our stroke program is admired worldwide. We launched the first regional stroke team in America, and today we are this region’s only Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. We are one of 129 Telestroke programs in the country, enabling virtual examinations at rural hospitals across the region, and we recently became the national coordinating center for all stroke research in America.
We are your region’s only Level I Trauma Center; we are nationally recognized for our Critical Care and Trauma Emergency Services; we operate this region’s only system-led Air Care program, which just received the Air Medical Service Program of the Year Award; and we operate Cincinnati’s only Verified Burn Center, one of only 53 of its kind in the United States.
In short, we can compete with any academic center in the country!
But rather than sit on our laurels, we are looking forward to our next 200 years. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Lofgren, the first physician CEO of a hospital system in our region, and armed with a new strategic plan – Plan 2017 – we are building on our rich history locally, nationally and internationally.
Our vision is to transform our community health presence by serving families in their neighborhoods and leveraging key partnerships to address large-scale issues, while improving health outcomes for our patients. At the same time, we are ready to transition from our origin as the leading provider of healthcare for our most vulnerable neighbors to our destination as a major referral center across the Midwest for services like cancer, neuroscience and transplants that local partners just can’t provide.
Our portals to national prominence are our institutes – think tanks of excellence where clinical care, research and teaching missions come together in a way that doesn’t happen anywhere else. Already our institutes have reached multiple national benchmarks in patient care and research. In 2012 research funding for the UC College of Medicine, which includes Cincinnati Children’s, totaled $300 million, placing us among the top 25 academic health centers in the United States.
Perhaps our most ambitious national effort involves our engagement in a multi-year process to apply for National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. With the incidence of cancer increasing (by 45% by 2030) and more than 1.6 million new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed, the closest NCI centers to Cincinnati are 80 miles away. Meanwhile, statistics show that mortality at one year is on average 25 percent lower at an NCI-designated cancer center.
Because of our rich history and our commitment to medicine and to serving our community, we have a deep awareness of our responsibility to provide health care that no one else can while reaching out to provide preventative services and access to follow-up care. Over the past 200 years, we have lived the story of bold impact and accountability. For 200 years, we’ve advocated, we’ve served, we’ve helped, and we’ve invested. We believe we can make a difference where we live and where we work. We believe in driving this change because our investment will result not only in healthier individuals and families, but also in a greater Cincinnati.
Lee Ann Liska is the president and CEO of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.