MetroHealth Hospital, West 25th Street, Clark-Fulton, Cleveland
MetroHealth Hospital, West 25th Street in Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Credit: Paul Rochford / Signal Cleveland

The president of Cuyahoga County Council said the body would work with the MetroHealth System to ensure a “smooth transition” to new leadership after the board ousted CEO Dr. Akram Boutros late Monday night. 

The county contributes $32 million to the public hospital system’s $1.6 billion in annual revenues. 

“Last night the MetroHealth Board raised serious allegations against its former CEO,” Council President Pernel Jones Jr. said in a statement released Tuesday. “We don’t know all the facts yet, but we expect public institutions be held to the highest standards of accountability and integrity. If the allegations are true, I believe the Board has acted appropriately. We remain committed to advancing the important mission of our county hospital.”

If the allegations are true, I believe the Board has acted appropriately. We remain committed to advancing the important mission of our county hospital.

Cuyahoga County President Pernel Jones

The board released a lengthy statement Monday accusing Boutros of paying himself $1.9 million in bonuses between 2018 and 2022 without disclosing it to the board. The hospital executive repaid MetroHealth $2.1 million on Oct. 31, the board’s statement said. The board hired law firm Tucker Ellis to investigate the payments. 

The board fired Boutros at its Monday meeting. You can read the board’s earlier resolution curtailing his power below.

Boutros, through his attorney, Jason Bristol, fired back on Tuesday. In a statement, he alleged that Board Chair Vanessa Whiting was retaliating against him for challenging the board over how it hired his successor, Dr. Airica Steed. According to Boutros’ statement, the board had deliberated on the new CEO outside of public meetings. 

Bristol’s statement also said the MetroHealth board’s news release about the firing contained numerous misstatements, but the attorney did not identify what they are. Bristol released an updated statement at around 4 pm. You can read it below. (The board has not yet responded to the charges made in it.)

Bristol has been a member of the MetroHealth Foundation board since 2019, according to his resume. The foundation, which raises money for the hospital and its charities, is separate from MetroHealth’s board. Signal Cleveland asked Bristol for a comment on whether his role as Boutros’ attorney poses a potential conflict. Bristol said he’s no longer on the board. He told Signal Cleveland he resigned at noon today.

Under Boutros, MetroHealth remade the face of its main campus in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Just this month, the hospital opened the $759 million Glick Center, which anchors the remade campus. 

Boutros had already planned to exit MetroHealth at the end of the year. Now, Dr. Nabil Chehade will take over as interim CEO until Steed begins work Dec. 5, according to the board. 

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley is reviewing the case.

“Our office is in contact with the Ohio Ethics Commission to review the matter,” O’Malley’s office said in a statement. “We decline to comment further at this time.”

An earlier version misstated the resolution listed in the post. It’s from earlier this month and it curtailed Boutros duties as CEO. It did not trigger his firing.

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.