University Hospitals’ Zenty to kick off Livable Community Forum

Story by | Laura Scherb

The path to creating more habitable communities through healthcare has already been forged in Cleveland, thanks to University Hospitals. This week, Chautauquans will find out about those communities and how to promote similar programs in their own cities.

As a part of the Livable Community Forum, Thomas F. Zenty III, chief executive officer of Cleveland’s University Hospitals, will speak at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the Hall of Philosophy. Zenty will also moderate a panel at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Philosophy.

University Hospitals operates under the principle that specific institutions can serve as an “anchor.” In other words, they can serve as a catalyst for economic and social change in their patrons’ communities.

“The anchor movement holds that institutions like ours can make a major difference locally simply by making business decisions in a more enlightened way,” Zenty said in April at the National Minority Quality Forum. “Instead of seeking only the lowest bidder, we seek the greatest value — economically and socially.”

University Hospitals received the Booker T. Washington Award at the forum.

University Hospitals’ philosophy is simple: equity through prosperity. When local institutions, such as schools and hospitals, make the decision to put the local community ahead of themselves, the wealth spreads and the health of the community increases.

“Study after study demonstrate that people with jobs are more likely to use health care and be healthier,” Zenty said. “And research shows that unemployment has pronounced negative health consequences on working-age adults and their children.”

His morning talk will focus on how hospitals in peer communities — such as Pittsburgh, Rochester and Buffalo — can follow the same steps to replicate the success of Cleveland. According to the model, hospitals and schools are the two institutions that have the power to effect change in communities through a few key ideological steps.

“Communities and healthcare leaders are discovering that hospitals can help heal entire cities,” Zenty said at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in May. “They can create jobs and wealth by favoring local businesses wherever we can. We can clear away historical barriers that have kept women- and minority-owned businesses out of the mainstream, and we can earn the trust and goodwill of our neighbors.”

In the afternoon, Zenty will be joined by three executives from institutions and organizations that can affect such change to discuss how wealth and philanthropy connect to health. The panel will include Paul L. Kuehnert, a director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, David Fukuzawa, managing director of health at The Kresge Foundation, and Robert E. Eckardt, executive vice president of The Cleveland Foundation. The panel is titled “Building Health from Wealth: Philanthropy’s Power as a Catalyst for Healthier Communities.”

Zenty will lead the discussion on using resources that companies and anchor institutions in the United States’ cities can use to fill their responsibilities and opportunities to care for the citizens of these areas.

“History shows us that we need more and different solutions to pervasive challenges,” Zenty said at the National Minority Quality Forum. “Using our leverage as anchor institutions to foster a more just and inclusive economy is an innovative and civic-minded step toward a more just and inclusive healthcare system.”