Its new president and CEO, Dr. Akram Boutros, is about to celebrate his first anniversary

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CLEVELAND -- MetroHealth Medical Center held its annual stakeholders meeting today at the Cleveland Convention Center and shared news about a new transformation plan.

Its new president and CEO, Dr. Akram Boutros, is about to celebrate his first anniversary as leader of the county hospital and today spoke of sweeping ideas and changes.

He says MetroHealth is in desperate need of an update. During the polar vortex this winter the pipes froze and burst and nearly caused the hospital to be evacuated twice. That cemented his belief that things must change and soon.

The oldest building on campus is more than a century old, and experts say 75 percent of the buildings on campus are outdated and beyond their usefulness. But Boutros wants to make sure the county hospital will continue to provide affordable and accessible care and be more accountable to taxpayers.

Cost cutting measures began last year. Overtime was the biggest bill, so instead they hired 200 new employees and are looking to add another 150. They had more than 150,000 new patient visits last year that helped push the books into the black.

"We started last year with first-quarter losses of $6.5 million and ended the year with an income of $19 million," Boutros said.

He added the trend is continuing this year as the hospital is already $9 million in the black.

"We've become experts at delivering high-quality care at lower cost," Boutros said.

His goal is to give taxpayers a break.

"We need to reduce or even eliminate the need for taxpayer subsidy for operations, and today, based on our expected fiscal performance, we are working towards a goal to become subsidy free for operations by 2016," Boutros said.

A transformation is in the works that takes ideas from around the country that would include making buildings smaller and the campus more community friendly. They want input and ideas from everyone including the community, patients, leaders and business. The latter because the plan includes revitalizing the West 25th Street corridor from Ohio City to Old Brooklyn.

"We can create a vibrancy that should attract business and investment, increase employment and average income and reduce crime," Boutros said.

By the end of this year they hope to know the needs of the new hospital, the cost and funding sources. Next year planning and design begins, and the goal is to start construction in 2016 and be near completion by 2020.

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