Paul Levy considers his new job of turning around Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center more challenging than the cleanup of Boston Harbor that he spearheaded in the late 1980s.
Levy, 51, most recently a dean at Harvard Medical School, began as president and chief executive officer of Beth Israel Deaconess last week and immediately announced that he would cut up to 700 jobs by the end of this month. The 589-bed not-for-profit hospital lost $67 million in fiscal 2001, which ended Sept. 30, and may lose $102 million in 2002, according to the Hunter Group, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based consulting firm hired by the hospital last year to develop a turnaround plan. The job cuts are expected to save the hospital $25 million to $35 million annually, Levy said.
"We now face our last chance to reverse this problem," Levy said in an e-mail to employees last week. Levy served on Beth Israel Deaconess' 14-member steering committee that was created when former CEO James Reinertsen, M.D., and former President Michael Rosenblatt, M.D., resigned last July and last September, respectively, but he has never run a hospital before.
CareGroup, the six-hospital Boston system for which Beth Israel Deaconess is the flagship, considered selling the hospital to a for-profit system last year, but that option is no longer being discussed, a hospital spokesman said.
Levy, as the executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority during the late 1980s and early 1990s, led a successful effort to clean up Boston Harbor, at the time rated America's dirtiest.
Beth Israel was formed from the 1996 merger of two academic teaching hospitals, Beth Israel Hospital and New England Deaconess Medical Center. Like other merged facilities nationwide, it has had difficulties in blending the two cultures. Levy said the hospital has suffered from an inability to make decisions.
"That is . . . over because I am here and I am going to decide," he said.