Meet MetroHealth’s 1st Black woman CEO: ‘I want to be the national model’

Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 9:28 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - She is determined to fight for those who may not have a voice.

“I’m fueled so much by the pain that I’ve experienced. My mother, my two grandmother’s and more recently my baby sister passed away as a byproduct of health care disparities explained Doctor Airica Steed.

Her own life was at risk with preeclampsia in two of her pregnancies.

Doctor Airica Steed says she is proud to be the new President and CEO of MetroHealth.

She says the pain of losing loved ones’ strengthens her mission as a leader to provide the best for all communities. “Regardless of their zip code, regardless of their gender, their race, regardless of their ability to pay and that was so powerful to me, and it allowed an opportunity to really make a difference in such a profound way in a different community. But, not just make a mark locally, I want to actually be the national model,” she expressed.

Dr. Steed is the first female, first African American, and first nurse to lead the organization.

She says her leadership started at a young age. " I’ve always been in a hurry. I’ve always been a trailblazer,” described Dr. Steed.

The fourth-generation nurse will lead the 1.7 billion dollars, 8-thousand-employee organization. Doctor Steed spent years transforming other organizations including Sinai Chicago Health System, where she was the Executive Vice President / System Chief Operating Officer. She also served as President of Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital. She reduced hospital-acquired infections and mortality rates by 40 percent and drastically increased patient appointments by providing transportation. " I want to lift up clinical excellence in care excellence and experience excellence.” She’s seasoned for this job, one that will start with some controversy.

Her predecessor Dr. Akram Boutros was fired from the MetroHealth Board of Trustees last year. According to the Board Chair, an investigation found he authorized more than 1,900,000 in supplemental bonuses to himself without telling the board. Boutros denies he did anything wrong and is now suing the board. " I was motivated to put the spotlight back on what we need to focus on, and I don’t want to be distracted by it. So from my perspective that is in the rearview mirror, explained Dr.Steed.” Focusing on the underserved, and tearing down health disparities, the mother of four says she’s happy to call Cleveland her new home. “I feel like the red carpet was rolled out and I was brought on board to make a difference and people we’re really lifting that up and really encouraging it, she expressed.