For much of its 150-year history, University Hospitals remained a quiet health system nestled on Cleveland's East Side.
But over the last decade and the last two years in particular, the health system has grown into a dominant force in Northeast Ohio with big ambitions. And as UH celebrates its 150th anniversary, the system isn't just reflecting on its last century and a half of service, but rather looking toward the future.
With both Broadview Heights and North Ridgeville health centers and freestanding emergency departments set to come online in roughly the next year — and the construction of a new women's and children's facility in urban Cleveland — UH continues to evolve.
Much like hospitals across the country, the UH system looks vastly different than a decade ago. And much of that is due to the vision of UH president and CEO Tom Zenty, who arrived in 2003 from Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles and envisioned building a truly regional health care system.
“What's the same is our commitment to the highest quality patient care, our commitment to the communities that we serve,” Zenty said in a recent interview with Crain's. “We were built on a commitment to support the community. … (That) remains an important part of who we are today.”
UH acquired five hospitals in 2014 and 2015, which broadened its reach all the way south to Ashland, helping strengthen UH's status as a regional system. The five hospital acquisitions helped UH significantly grow its market share from 20% in 2010 to 32% by the end of 2015. Over that same period, the system's total operating revenue ballooned from about $2 billion to $3.29 billion, or almost half the size of the rivaling Cleveland Clinic.
However, Zenty is quick to note, “We are not expanding for the sake of growth.”
Despite the major investments, the system has maintained a healthy profit — no small feat in today's challenging health care environment. In 2015, UH posted operating income of $93.6 million on operating revenues of $3.29 billion — a margin of about 2.84%, which is in line with 2014's operating margin of 2.88%.
UH is currently not in the middle of any transactions to integrate more hospitals. Also, with the exception of Lake Health, the immediate market is fully consolidated.
“Where there are opportunities, we'll pursue them,” Zenty said. “But we'll do it with the same vigilance as we did in the past several years.”