In honor of a remarkable career, I share the news about the death of faculty emeritus Dr. Randall D. Cebul whose medical career focused on improving the quality of care for populations most in need. We have lost a true champion for those whose voices often go unheard.
Joining our faculty in 1987, Dr. Cebul led the division of general internal medicine at MetroHealth System and was deeply committed to mentorship and training. In 1994 he became the founding director of the MetroHealth and CWRU Center for Healthcare Research and Policy, which works to improve and inform health policy and practice.
Dr. Cebul will be remembered as a thought leader and innovator who championed fair and accessible community health. His vision to improve the health of people in Northeast Ohio led to the development of programs like the regional health improvement collaborative, the Better Health Greater Cleveland (now called Better Health Partnership). This program led to multiple improvements in care quality in the region by prioritizing collaboration over competition among healthcare systems in a highly competitive healthcare market.
Dr. Cebul was a change-maker and a natural collaborator who worked to break down silos to achieve an equitable healthcare system. This was evident when he was able to bring together 44 physician practices from competing health systems to agree to collect process and outcomes data, to share that data publicly, to identify inequities and other opportunities to improve care, and then work together successfully to improve care. Through this work, the region was able to eliminate disparities in diabetes care, among other activities to improve health and from 2007 to 2017, the 44 initial practices grew to over 90 participating practices.
The success of this regional collaborative model led to larger statewide collaborative efforts to improve care and eliminate disparities in cardiovascular and diabetes health outcomes (called Cardi-OH) and continues by his mentees and other faculty colleagues to this day.
Dr. Cebul authored over 100 publications demonstrating effective translation of programs and policies to improve health outcomes and advance health equity, one of which was a pilot Medicaid waiver program that contributed to Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio.
He was also committed to building a pipeline of health services researchers. From 1993 to 2005, Dr. Cebul directed a T32 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality training program and served as a mentor for the NIH Roadmap career development training grant program (known as the KL2).
Recognizing his leadership, research and dedication to improving the health of all populations, Dr. Cebul received numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious Mount Sinai Health Care Foundation Maurice Saltzman Award in 2009, the American Red Cross Hero Award in Cleveland in 2010, the Health Center Hero Award in 2015 and the Crain’s Innovation All-Star Award also in 2015.
For those who wish to join with family and friends in remembrance, calling hours will be held at the Schulte & Mahon-Murphy Funeral Home between 4–6 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, and a celebration of his life (public reception) at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club in Gates Mills from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 31.
Stan Gerson, MD
Dean and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs
School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University