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Lee Health and Cleveland Clinic form new ‘alliance’

By CJ HADDAD / cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com - | Nov 30, 2020

Lee County’s top healthcare provider is teaming up with one of the nation’s most renowned health care systems.

Lee Health recently announced that it will enter into an agreement with the Cleveland Clinic “to share best practices that will optimize patient-centered care for residents of Southwest Florida.”

According to Lee Health, the strategic alliance establishes a framework for how the two health systems will work together as they assess opportunities to share best practices and enhance existing clinical or operational projects or establish new ones. As the two organizations move forward, they will lay groundwork for potential further areas of collaboration in the future.

“The alliance with Cleveland Clinic opens up many possibilities for future collaboration, programs and activities that will enhance the excellent care we are already providing to our patients,” Lee Health President Dr. Larry Antonucci said in a release. “Together with the physician community we will establish new ways to elevate the medical care available throughout Southwest Florida.”

Officials said work will begin soon and they anticipate “positive” changes to take place quickly.

One of the first steps will be establishing a development committee made up of representatives from both Lee Health and the Cleveland Clinic who will be responsible for oversight, guidance and development of the relationship.

“Patients will benefit from the opportunities that will be provided through new treatments and therapies and accelerated access to the resources of Cleveland Clinic’s expertise,” Dr. Scott Nygaard, chief operating officer at Lee Health, said.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report named the Cleveland Clinic the No. 2 hospital in the nation and the No. 1 hospital for heart care in its 2020-21 Best Hospitals rankings. It marks the 26th consecutive year that the Cleveland Clinic has earned the No. 1 ranking in cardiology and heart surgery, and the 22nd year in a row it has earned a top five overall ranking. U.S. News & World Report also ranked the Cleveland Clinic in the top 10 nationally in 13 specialties. Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Weston Hospital has held the top ranking in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro region for three consecutive years, and was No. 5 overall in the state.

“Cleveland Clinic is excited to enter into this strategic alliance with Lee Health, which has a reputation for high-quality care,” Conor Delaney, president of Cleveland Clinic Florida, said in a statement. “We look forward to the collaboration between teams and to continue the excellent outcomes for the patients of Lee Health.”

According to officials, Lee Health is currently one of the largest not-for-profit public health systems in the country. Lee Health operates four acute care and two specialty hospitals, including the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

In April, all four of Lee Health’s adult acute care hospitals earned “A” grades from Leapfrog, which publishes safety grades for hospitals across the country. Leapfrog also recognized the Gulf Coast Medical Center as a “Top Hospital” in 2020 and the Golisano Children’s Hospital as a “Top Children’s Hospital” three years in-a-row. Cape Coral Hospital is a Sterling Council Award recipient, the highest quality award in Florida.

“It is exciting to have these two high-quality organizations team up in this innovative alliance to advance health care in this region in a way that neither party can achieve on its own,” David Collins, chairman of the Lee Health Board of Directors, said in a release. “The board of directors is eager to see what emerges as Lee Health and Cleveland Clinic begin to collaborate and is looking forward to providing strategic oversight to the projects that will be brought forward.”