February 26, 2021

100 Years of Compassionate, Best-in-Class Caregiving

Cleveland Clinic's team-based approach elevates the healthcare experience for everyone


By K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, FAAN, Chief Caregiver Officer


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February 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Cleveland Clinic. What began as a multi-specialty group practice in a small outpatient clinic has grown to become the world’s first integrated international health system, with more than 220 locations and 9 million outpatient visits annually.

Significant to Cleveland Clinic’s longstanding success are its compassionate, best-in-class caregivers, who today total more than 70,000 worldwide. Caregivers have been the heart and soul of the organization since its inception, serving patients with superior clinical care, advancing healthcare, and paving the way for Cleveland Clinic to become the renowned institution it is today. Their leadership in quality of care and innovation inspires peers around the world.

A team-based culture

From the beginning, Cleveland Clinic’s founders established a culture that was team-based and connected to the mission of the organization – caring for life, researching for health and educating those who serve. (Read about the new mission statement, which reflects Cleveland Clinic’s past, present and future.)

In this culture, caregivers build meaningful connections with one another, recognize and promote the contributions of every team member, are engaged and committed to professional development, innovation and research, and believe in Cleveland Clinic’s “patients first” model of care. Caregivers live by core values around teamwork, inclusion and integrity.

  • They believe in working together to ensure the best possible care, safety, and well-being of patients and fellow caregivers.
  • They intentionally create environments of compassionate belonging, where all are valued and respected.
  • They adhere to high moral principles and professional standards through a commitment to honesty, confidentiality, trust, respect and transparency.

All employees are caregivers

For 100 years, the organization’s leaders have made it clear that caregivers are Cleveland Clinic’s greatest asset. The philosophy is that all employees are caregivers. No matter their position – bedside care, administration, marketing, environmental services, supply chain, finance and more – every caregiver is a member of Cleveland Clinic’s collaborative “team of teams.” This team of teams, the one Cleveland Clinic family, is always working together to provide the safest, highest quality care and to create the best possible outcomes for patients.

A growing family with a global reach

Throughout Cleveland Clinic’s history, generations of caregivers have exemplified the principle that innovative medical care can be delivered both to local communities and around the world. For example, in addition to the care provided in Cleveland and surrounding communities, in 1942, the Cleveland Clinic Naval Unit departed for service in New Zealand, where they spent 14 months working at Mobile Hospital No. 4 at Auckland. In the 1970s, Cleveland Clinic began attracting increasing numbers of international patients, particularly from the Middle East, including Crown Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia, who came to Cleveland Clinic for coronary artery bypass surgery in 1972. And today, Cleveland Clinic caregivers serve patients from every state in the U.S. and 185 countries.

The values and ethics – not just articulated by Cleveland Clinic leaders but demonstrated every day by caregivers – have created a culture that attracts more of the best talent in healthcare. They seek careers at Cleveland Clinic for reasons such as a safe work environment, competitive benefits, pathways for professional growth and development, and opportunities to advance medical specialties and overall healthcare through research, evidence-based practice, and ground-breaking innovation and technology.

Thank you, caregivers

As Chief Caregiver Officer, I am excited by what the future holds for those who share a dedication to healthcare. There has never been a better time for us to learn from, and be inspired by, the work we do to improve lives around the world.


My promise to Cleveland Clinic’s caregivers is to build on what we have already accomplished and make Cleveland Clinic an even better organization to work for, to serve patients and communities, and to continue to set standards that help elevate healthcare for all.

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