David L. Bronson, MD, MACP (IM’92), Emeritus Professional Staff, is the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association’s 2023 Special Achievement Award honoree. This award recognizes physicians or scientists for exceptional, enduring achievements and leadership that have brought pride and recognition to Cleveland Clinic’s community.
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Dr. Bronson embodies these qualities, having “impacted Cleveland Clinic and our Ohio community in profound and astounding ways,” says Cleveland Clinic Akron General President Brian Harte, MD (Staff’04), “and the wake of his influence continues to reverberate in our organization today.”
“There’s no higher form of recognition than being selected for an award by your peers,” says Dr. Bronson. “It’s very moving.” He notes that being recognized in this way is even more meaningful to him as his wife, Kathleen Franco, MD (P’92), emeritus staff, also received the Special Achievement Award in 2017.
Dr. Bronson, who was on staff at Cleveland Clinic from 1992 until retiring in 2014, earned his medical degree at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin and at Vermont. Considering his proudest achievements, Dr. Bronson cites his first role at Cleveland Clinic as Chair of General Internal Medicine and, in 1995, becoming the first Chair of the Division of Regional Medical Practice. The regional practice began with one family health center in Independence, Ohio, and under his oversight through 2007, grew to include over a dozen more throughout Northeast Ohio.
“I also served on the Board of Governors,” Dr. Bronson says. “All of this helped create a template for growth, particularly in primary care, into Greater Cleveland, and it established a reputation for excellence in all the communities Cleveland Clinic served.”
He became the first Chair of the Medicine Institute in 2007, organizing Cleveland Clinic’s primary care practices into one organization, along with the Department of Infectious Diseases, and started the Department of Hospital Medicine.
In 2010, Dr. Bronson became President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic Regional Hospitals and Family Health Centers. Establishing a regional medical practice involved “a lot of hard work,” Dr. Bronson says. “We had quite a lot of late-night meetings and meals as our community hospitals merged into the system. It was hard, and there was a lot of distrust. We had to build trust.”
Dr. Bronson developed a cohort of physician-leaders who became Presidents of each hospital. In addition, he worked with Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, MD (TS’75), to combine several hospital boards into one, “standardizing governance across the organization. And he led clinical integration across service lines, hospitals and institutes under the mantra of what was then a new phrase, ‘One Cleveland Clinic,’” Dr. Harte says.
Dr. Bronson also faced tough challenges outside of Cleveland Clinic, serving as a national leader. “I was President of the American College of Physicians, the largest specialty organization in the world,” he says. “During the passage of Obamacare, I testified before Congress three times. I also had the privilege of attending the State of the Union address in President Obama’s last year.” The American College of Physicians designated him Master (MACP). He is equally proud of becoming the chair of the governing boards of The Joint Commission and the American Medical Group Association.
Yet, Dr. Bronson finds his greatest accomplishment not in his broadscale leadership but rather in his one-on-one relationships. “I had the privilege of mentoring many fine leaders at Cleveland Clinic,” he says. “We have a strong network of alumni who are now the current generation of leaders. Many grew up in our regional practice and set a standard. I am proud that we improved care throughout Northeast Ohio, in collaboration with MetroHealth, Kaiser, and the facilities we developed. We changed the face of Cleveland Clinic from a single site in Ohio to care for everybody in all those communities.”
He values his own mentoring, too. “Patients ask me why I came to Cleveland Clinic, and I say it was because I thought I was a good doctor and could do good work,” Dr. Bronson says. “I became an even better doctor because I was surrounded by expertise, by great doctors like Ralph Straffon, MD (Staff’59), Floyd D. “Fred” Loop, MD (TS’70), and Bernadine Healy, MD (Staff’85). I’m thankful to them. This place teaches a lot.”