Paul Levy, president and CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, located in Boston, Massachusetts, has seen its share of challenges and changes since Beth Israel and Deaconess Hospitals merged in 1996.
Within a few short years after joining, however, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center faced possible closure and near financial ruin. That's when Paul Levy came on board as president and CEO. An expert in management, Levy's professional experience ranges from positions in the government to the corporate sector. With his previous posts with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and the energy secretary of Arkansas, Levy wasn't exposed to the health care industry until he became the administrative dean of Harvard Medical School. It was this position that led to his hiring by Beth Israel Deaconess to turn things around.
"The medical center was losing over 70 million dollars a year and many doctors had left. The turnover rate among nurses was high and patients were losing confidence. We had to get the place back on its feet and running smoothly again, and part of that was to recruit good surgeons and rebuild a number of programs, including the transplant program," Levy said.
Levy did just that. Doug Hanto, MD, was hired to reinvigorate the transplant program. And four years later, the program is the largest solid organ transplant program in New England. "The reason is simple: it has everything to do with Dr. Hanto, who's as good as they come in the field and is an excellent leader with his staff," Levy said.
As president and CEO, Levy says you can generally trust that people want to succeed and do well; and one of the leadership skills to possess is the ability to create an environment in which they can do what they want and do this well.
"I don't run this place in a hierarchical fashion where I make a lot of decisions. I run it in a way that encourages people to work together and explore the options they have; to experiment, be creative and do what they want to do in the first place. Sounds simplistic, but that's my approach," says Levy. "Many doctors are used to working and succeeding alone, but for a hospital to succeed, those same people need to work together in teams." And, Levy has created an environment that respects the individualâ€™s skills and experience, yet reinforces the benefits of teamwork.
Levy also credits Linda Lentz, administrative manager of the transplant program, as one of the driving forces for the smooth operation of the transplant program, and one who is also involved in the HRSA Organ Donation and Transplantation Breakthrough Collaboratives. "I hear from Linda often on how organ procurement coordinators work within the realm of being incredibly sensitive to people whose loved ones are about to die or who have died with being appropriately assertive and aggressive with regards to organ donation consent; I admire their ability to talk with the families during this terrible time," comments Levy. "And the response is often remarkably positive, as it enables the family to take some solace in the loss of a loved one knowing those organs will be used to save somebody else; it's still a difficult message to give at that time, and it's a real attribute to the organ procurement folks that they do it so well." Levy has never received a complaint from a family being approached about organ donation. In fact, he has received the opposite - written letters from family members stating that they were very appreciative that someone had approached them about making a difference.
The HRSA Organ Donation and Transplantation Breakthrough Collaboratives have instilled the notion of teamwork among all levels of staff: ICU nurses, attending physicians, social workers, interpreters and pastoral care. Levy says it is all about educating the staff about what their role could be in dealing with organ donation. "No matter what the challenges, the bottom line in facing those challenges is having the right team in place and the right people in charge," says Levy. He credits Dr. Hanto and his transplant team for making a difference not only in transplantation, but through their involvement in the Collaborative. "Dr. Hanto and his fellow doctors are so good at this and have created an aura around the whole transplant program that supports both organ donation and transplantation."
Donation and transplantation achievements of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are provided below.
Increase in donors by year
2003: 11 donors (9 brain dead, 2 DCD)
2004: 18 donors (6 brain dead, 12 DCD)
2005: 18 donors (9 brain dead, 9 DCD)
2006 (to date): 10 donors (6 brain dead, 4 DCD)
Conversion rates by year
2006: 77% (through August 28)