Taking Charge of the Bidmc
Paul Levy: Taking Charge of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (A)
In Paul Levys words:
“The Beth Israel [BI] Hospital was established in 1916 because Jewish doctors could not find other hospitals in the Boston area that would allow them to practice. The Jewish community built and financed the BI over several decades, devoting millions of dollars of philanthropy to create a high-class academic medical center that was known not only for the quality of its research and teaching, but especially for its quality of care.

“There was a warm, caring atmosphere in the place that was second to none. The nursing staff was granted extraordinary discretion in terms of how much time they could spend with patients. Doctors too spent time and effort ensuring that families and patients felt especially well cared for. The hospital was even known for its food. The cookies, for example, were famous. People would come to the cafeteria from all around town to get the raisin oatmeal cookies because they were so good. Sunday breakfast was bagels and smoked salmon, served in the patients rooms.

“The hospital did very well for many years. Meanwhile, the Deaconess Hospital, just down the street from the BI, also did well. But it had a different philosophy. It was less of an academic medical center, although it too played that role. Instead, it placed greater emphasis on surgical specialties and the delivery of high-quality care.

A New Environment
“In the early 1990s, there was talk in the Longwood area [the geographical location of Bostons hospitals] about a potential merger among several of the Harvard-affiliated hospitals: talk, for example, of merging the Beth Israel with the Brigham and Womens Hospital nearby. Those discussions were pushed by the Dean of Harvard Medical School, Dan Tosteson. They werent going very well, in part because of personality differences between the leadership of the BI and the Brigham. Then things changed dramatically. Literally over a weekend, John McArthur, who was the Dean of the Harvard Business School and was also on the board of one of the Harvard hospitals, organized a session in which he proposed that the Brigham merge with the Massachusetts General Hospital to create a new organization called Partners Healthcare System. The merger was announced on the subsequent

Professors David A. Garvin and Michael A. Roberto prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.

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