August 22, 2022/Leadership

New Chief Nurse Leads Union Hospital by Prioritizing High-Quality Care, Institutional Collaboration

Tenured leader puts shared governance wheels in motion


Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital’s new chief nursing officer (CNO), John T. Baker, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, believes high-quality clinical practice should be at the forefront of nursing leadership. The newly appointed Dr. Baker oversees the hospital’s nursing team of nearly 200.


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“I’m enormously impressed by how well-versed our team is in strategic planning, problem-solving and clinical practice, and I look forward to building on that success,” he says.

Dr. Baker has spent the majority of his 25-year nursing career at Cleveland Clinic hospitals, including Akron General Lodi Hospital, South Pointe Hospital, main campus and Cleveland Clinic Children’s. His track record reflects the instrumental leadership role he has played in the health system.

At Lodi, he helped establish several vital services, including telemedicine for inpatient night coverage, a primary care virtual room and a pain-management program. At South Pointe, he played an integral role in the hospital’s attainment of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet® designation — a goal he has already set for Union Hospital.

To achieve this coveted designation, Dr. Baker plans to fully integrate Union into the Cleveland Clinic health system and establish nursing shared governance.

Standardizing practice

“One of my major focuses is ensuring that the Union nursing team has access to all the tools and resources available within the health system,” he says. “Once we are fully integrated, we will have the equipment, information technology, policies, procedures and processes to standardize care and practice with the rest of Cleveland Clinic.”

Dr. Baker’s longstanding system-wide relationships have enabled Union nurses to work closely with their Cleveland Clinic colleagues to implement tried-and-true best practices by harnessing resources from across the enterprise.


“When our nurses see opportunities or challenges, they look to enterprise standards and resources for solutions,” he says. “Although you will never have all the answers, I’ve learned that you can make wise decisions by understanding how to access and leverage the resources available to you.”

Cleveland Clinic’s philosophy that caregivers are part of a team of teams extends well beyond nursing to include all disciplines, notes Dr. Baker.

“I served as vice president of nursing and operations at Lodi, where I oversaw physical therapy, nutrition services, environmental services and other disciplines in addition to nursing,” he explains. “I learned a lot about the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Success depends on the participation of every caregiver.”

Implementing shared governance

Among Dr. Baker’s chief goals is to amplify the voice of his staff by establishing nursing shared governance.

“Shared governance gives nurses a platform to help them make decisions about practice and quality,” he explains. “Nurses are experts at what they do, and it is vital for them to have ownership of the imperative elements that affect how they practice.”

Under Dr. Baker’s leadership, Union Hospital recently formed a nurse executive committee. Councils on nursing quality and nursing practice are also in the works.


“I hope to enhance our ability to learn from one another by bringing together all groups from across the hospital,” he says. “That’s what shared governance is all about — a shared responsibility between management and staff nurses to improve practice on a wider scale.”

Getting a lay of the land

Dr. Baker says conversations with his Union team members have highlighted the hospital’s commitment to its local populace. “Our efforts are strengthened by the valuable link we’ve established between hospital and community,” he says.

To this aim, Dr. Baker and his team are working to build connections with area nursing schools and career centers. He has already spent time with nursing educators at Kent State University’s Tuscarawas and Stark campuses; Herzing University in Akron, Ohio; and Stark State in Canton, Ohio.

“One of my priorities is to build a nursing pipeline for future generations of caregivers,” he says. “These supportive relationships create significant opportunities for guiding members of our community toward future nursing careers.”

Dr. Baker adds that patient and caregiver safety, another one of his passions, will also be an important part of his leadership strategy. His CNO position was effective June 1.

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