The board of the MetroHealth System has selected Airica Steed to serve as the next president and CEO of the health system, effective Jan. 1.

Steed, currently an executive in the Sinai Chicago Health System, will succeed Dr. Akram Boutros, who last year announced plans to retire when his contract ends at the end of 2022. He has led MetroHealth since 2013.

After a nationwide search that considered several excellent candidates for the CEO role, the board unanimously agreed that Steed was “the right leader to take MetroHealth forward, particularly as we open The Glick Center, our new hospital, and to increase our impact on our community’s health,” said Vanessa Whiting, MetroHealth’s board chair, in a news release.

Steed is executive vice president and system chief operating officer of Sinai Chicago Health System, an urban academic healthcare system focused on health equity and eradicating healthcare disparities, goals that mirror MetroHealth’s mission. The system serves 1.5 million patients throughout Chicago; has four acute care, post-acute and specialty hospitals and a large multispecialty medical group with 800 physicians and 4,000 caregivers; and boasts a nationally recognized research institute, MetroHealth said in the release.

Steed also is president of the system’s flagship, Mount Sinai and Sinai Children’s Hospital, an acute care safety-net, teaching hospital, Level III Perinatal Center, and Level I Adult Trauma Center. The flagship recently opened an ambulatory campus featuring a facility that integrates healthcare with retail and housing to address the social determinants of health, according to a release.

“Coming from one of MetroHealth’s national peers, I know it to be one of the most admired, innovative and progressive public health systems in the country,” Steed said in a statement. “MetroHealth has done an incredible job in developing a patient-centered, whole-system approach that aggressively targets health equity and has a bold and unapologetic focus on eradicating healthcare inequities.”

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At Sinai Chicago, Steed led a multifaceted transformation (clinically, operationally, financially and culturally) that accumulated more than $200 million in improvements over three years while also improving publicly reported quality indicators, according to the release.

Her capabilities, character and experience made Steed “a perfect match,” Whiting said in the release.

“She comes from a major safety-net healthcare system that shares a similar focus to that of MetroHealth: improving the health of the community in an urban, academic setting,” said Whiting, president of A.E.S. Management Corp, in a statement. “Airica has been successful in improving quality of care, patient satisfaction, operating results, and health equity. She also has a deep history as an innovator and as a community collaborator who builds strong relationships among partners, both of which will continue to be important to our success.”

Steed, a fourth-generation nurse, has received national recognition and awards for her innovation and leadership, including from Modern Healthcare (among the “Top 25 Healthcare Innovators” in 2020 and “Top 25 Minority Leaders” in 2021) and in Becker’s Hospital Review (one of the “Top 130 Women Hospital & Health System Leaders to Know” and “75 Black Healthcare Leaders to Know”), according to the release.

Prior to working at Sinai Chicago, Steed held leadership roles at Presence Health, the University of Illinois Health System and Advocate Health System, as well as working at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. She serves in various academic positions and holds board positions.

Steed earned her doctorate of education in leadership from Olivet Nazarene University, her MBA from Governors State University and her bachelor’s of science in nursing degree from Rush University, according to the release. Additionally, she is pursuing a master’s degree in international relations, with a focus on healthcare, from Harvard University Extension School.

“The board, Dr. Boutros and the MetroHealth team have put the system in an incredibly strong position, with great opportunities ahead,” Steed said. “I’m excited to have the chance to work alongside them to build on what’s been accomplished and further develop and build on that work into the future.”

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Cleveland Business.

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