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Dr. Toby Cosgrove is leaving his position as the head of the Cleveland Clinic later this year — ending a lengthy tenure marked by massive expansion as well as controversy because of his relationship with President Trump.

For nearly 13 years as president and CEO, Cosgrove has grown the Cleveland Clinic into an $8 billion health system with locations in Ohio and as far away as Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the health system has more than doubled its revenue from $3.7 billion in 2004 to $8.5 billion in 2016. According to a statement, he “has decided to begin a succession process to transition out of the top executive role.”

“It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of an extraordinary and forward-thinking organization that puts patients at the center of everything we do,” Cosgrove said Monday in the statement. “Cleveland Clinic’s world-class reputation of clinical excellence, innovation, medical education and research was created and will be maintained by the truly dedicated caregivers who work tirelessly to provide the best care to our patients.”


But despite Cosgrove’s successes, he and the health system have been mired in a string of controversies.

After his election, President Trump considered Cosgrove as a potential pick to run the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs. Cosgrove ultimately declined the job, as he did when President Obama requested his leadership — but agreed to advise President Trump.


In January, Dr. Daniel Neides, director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, published an anti-vaccine column on that drew swift backlash and forced the clinic to reconsider some of its offerings. The following month, Cosgrove refused to cancel a fundraiser scheduled at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida resort — even though one of the health system’s residents, a Sudanese citizen, was briefly denied entry into the US because of Trump’s immigration executive order.

But, under Cosgrove’s leadership, the clinic says total visits increased from 2.8 million to 7.1 million. And so did research funding, from $121 million to $260 million. The number of physician-scientists at Cleveland Clinic has almost doubled, from 1,800 to 3,400.

In the coming years, the Cleveland Clinic has planned several major projects, including a $500 million health education campus in conjunction with Case Western Reserve University and new medical center in London, currently set to open in 2020.

The Cleveland Clinic’s board of directors and board of governors expect to name a successor, who will be a practicing physician, sometime in 2017. They have also asked Cosgrove to work as an adviser to the health system.

  • That’s not the only controversy Cosgrove has been involved in. Several years ago he made waves by saying he would prefer not to hire anyone who was “overweight” or “obese.” He’s in the camp that wants more stigmatization of people in larger bodies rather than less. That’s when I lost all vestiges of respect for him. Good riddance.

  • The Cleveland Clinic’s selling of fake medicine like reiki, acupuncture, and homeopathy under Cosgrove’s watch meets the definition of health fraud.

    There need to be a full investigation into the extent to which patients were scammed. All the fake doctors and quacks (e.g. Mark Hyman) hired by the Cleveland Clinic need to be fired immediately.

    No therapy should be offered unless it has scientific evidence for safety and efficacy.

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