Filed Under Healthcare

Metro Health Medical Center

The Nation's First Public Hospital System

In 1958, City Hospital officially became Cleveland Metropolitan General, through a vote of the Cuyahoga County electorate to transfer the hospital from city to county control. As the newest addition to the County's growing portfolio of health, judicial, and transportation divisions, City Hospital was renamed Cleveland Metropolitan General to underscore the change from a city focus to a broader county role. This change reflected a trend in the 1950s towards increasing county control over city governance due to the redistribution of the population into the suburbs rather than the core city. The county takeover of Metro General also marked the beginning of the Cuyahoga County Hospital System. Today, the CCHS, now known as The MetroHealth System, is recognized as the nation's first public hospital system. Metro Health Medical Center is still the oldest and largest member of MetroHealth System, and is recognized nationally for its MetroLife Flight program and its Trauma and Burn unit. Serving as one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation and with more than 3,000 admissions annually, it is also the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the region.

The most iconic image of Metro Health Medical Center is without a doubt its Twin Towers, the structures whose nickname stemmed from the simultaneous construction of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The towers were built as a part of the county-initiated $40 million expansion undertaken at the campus on Scranton Road between 1962 and 1972, primarily funded through tax levies. The project included the construction of the towers--each a 12 story "hospital in the round." The reports on the towers at the time revolved around the benefits of the round construction of the towers, allowing for a central nurse's station in the corridor connecting the towers, and patient rooms forming a semi-circle on both sides. Each tower could hold 503 beds in total, with each floor accommodating 28 patients in semi-private rooms and private bathroom facilities. The towers also featured air conditioning, a pulmonary intensive care unit, and a burn treatment center. Showcased was the state-of-the art food delivery system, the "Cyberail" system of 'robot carts,' one of the first systems of its kind installed in the nation. The towers, more formally known as North Building, were built as part of the $40 million, ten year building project, costing $18.5 million themselves, over 46% of the total budget. This building plan was conceived in order to transform the campus into a modern and unique major medical center. The plan for the 'Twin Towers' embodied the hope of a nation in the future and acted as a stalwart of growth for a city experiencing troubled times.

Metro Health Medical Center has refocused its many programs and functions in response to the ever-changing demographics of its constituency, yet it continues to tie itself to the community and is the main source for affordable healthcare in the Cleveland area. The hospital-sponsored Community Health Centers stretch across Cuyahoga County from the east side of Cleveland to the west side, from the inner city out to its suburbs. Depending on the community in which they reside, the centers offer bilingual staff, pediatrics, geriatrics, WIC programs, safe sex education, and family planning services. Also important to the hospital's mission is school-based centers which deliver medicine to the people. Most importantly, the centers are formulated for no-cost or low-cost for patients who cannot pay, and are tailored to the community's needs. This is, and has always been, the niche for Metro Health Medical Center amongst the medical giants of Cleveland. It is the 'neighborhood' hospital and remains dedicated to providing medical care for all Cuyahoga County residents.


Metro General's "Twin Towers"
Metro General's "Twin Towers" The "Twin Towers" at Metro General were known as a 'hospital in the round'. Finished in 1973, the towers boasted the newest technology of the day. In 2011 Metro Health Systems first proposed that the towers be torn down, and a new North Building be built in its place by 2020. Source: Cleveland State University. Mchael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Cleveland Press Announces Cuyahoga County Takeover
Cleveland Press Announces Cuyahoga County Takeover This 1957 article announced the takeover of former City Hospital by Cuyahoga County authority. The takeover not only meant a name change for the hospital, but a shift in focus from city to broader county involvement. The article above recounts a brief history of City Hospital and highlights a few of the doctors who made great impacts. Amid these names is Dr. Robert Koch, who is credited with discovering the TB bacteria. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections. Date: 1957
Interstate 71 View of Metro Health Medical Center
Interstate 71 View of Metro Health Medical Center The entire campus, then known as Cleveland Metropolitan General, is visible on the West side of I-71 in this image taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s. On the opposite side of the interstate lies the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp., Cleveland Works.Today that area is occupied by Steelyard Commons Shopping Complex. The surrounding working-class neighborhoods have begun to be restored and renovated into restaurants, clubs, and shopping. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections. Date: ca. 1960
Renovation Proposal Plans, 1963
Renovation Proposal Plans, 1963 This map identifies the proposed new buildings for the Cleveland Metropolitan General campus, which later were completed at a cost of approximately $40 million. The 'New North Building' in this image is a square addition to the Main General Building of the same style. This building complex would eventually be replaced by the 'Twin Towers.' Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections. Date: 1963
Metro General's 'Cyberrail' System, 1972
Metro General's 'Cyberrail' System, 1972 This photograph was featured in a 1972 article entitled "Patients Can Catch Eye of Nurse". The article unveiled the new Towers at Cleveland Metro General campus, along with cutting edge technology that was being installed. In this image, "Mrs. Francine Wiedt readies the return trip of a robot that will scurry through the walls, and up and down in special elevators, to deliver meals and supplies fast to every patient section of Metro General's Twin Towers." The robot they refer to is the large box pictured, a 'Cyberrail' system that used monorails throughout the Towers to deliver hot food and other necessities. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections. Date: 1972
Metro General at Dusk
Metro General at Dusk This postcard image shows the Twin Towers lit at dusk, a familiar sight from nearby I-71. Source: Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
On Strike
On Strike This March 1980 photo shows hospital workers on strike at the Cleveland Metro Hospital Campus. The strike lasted for nine days. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees won the right to represent certain categories of employees at the hospital in 1967. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Digital Photo Collection Date: 1980
Buildings and Concrete
Buildings and Concrete By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Metro Health Medical Center campus had become cluttered with a variety of buildings erected in different eras of the hospital's history. This photo shows several of 1920 era buildings in the foreground and one of the 1970 era "twin towers" in the background. Creator: Jim Dubelko
A Vision of a Future Metro Health Medical Center
A Vision of a Future Metro Health Medical Center In 2014, the CEO of The MetroHealth Systems unveiled a number of drawings, including the one above, that show how the campus of the Metro Health Medical Center could be transformed in the future. It reveals a place that will have more green space and less buildings, consistent with twenty-first century hospital policy and practice that places more emphasis on acute, emergency, and outpatient treatment facilities than on hospital beds. Creator: MetroHealth Systems Date: 2014


2500 Metrohealth Dr, Cleveland, OH


Shannon Stewart, “Metro Health Medical Center,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 24, 2024,