Paul Levy, the chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center whose achievements at the hospital were clouded by criticism last year of his relationship with a female employee, has announced that he will resign.
In an e-mail to the hospital community, he said he reached the conclusion to leave after recently turning 60 and after returning this month from a mountain bike trip to Africa, where he had ''plenty of time in a less cluttered environment to think this through.''
Levy said he needed ''some new challenges,'' and made only a general reference to the controversy that surrounded him this year, when he was fined by the board of trustees for mistakes in judgment regarding the long-time employment of a woman who Levy has called a close personal friend.
"Over the last nine years, I have certainly made mistakes of degree, emphasis, and judgment,'' Levy said in his e-mail. "I have apologized to you directly for some of those, but I do so again, in the hope that such errors will not overshadow the many accomplishments and contributions of our hospital to the community and the health care industry. On the personal level, if I have slighted any one of you in any way or given you any cause for concern about my warm regard and respect for you, I doubly apologize.''
In an interview from his office at the hospital this morning, Levy said his resignation was unrelated to the controversy last year. "That was over. That was almost a year ago. The board had given me a vote of confidence.''
Instead, Levy said his decision was related to his turning 60 and the hospital's financial success.
Levy said he enjoys leading an organization most when it's struggling and is in need of a turnaround -- which was the situation when he was hired as chief executive of the hospital nine years ago.
"Once that's in place, I lose my enthusiasm for the maintenance of things,'' he said. "Here, that job is done. We had our best year ever last year.''
Because the hospital is very profitable and because more patients are seeking care there, Levy said he believes his friendship with the female employee, who no longer works at Beth Israel Deaconess, and the subsequent investigations did not end up hurting the organization.
He said that he will stay ''a few weeks to a month'' and that the hospital's chief operating officer, Eric Buehrens, will temporarily run Beth Israel Deaconess while the board searches for a permanent replacement.Before coming to the hospital in 2007, Buehrens was a deputy provost at Harvard University and a dean at its medical school.
Stephen Kay, chairman of the Board of Directors for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said in a statement sent to hospital employees that the board will appoint a search committee in the next few weeks.
He praised Levy for placing the hospital on "solid financial footing" and "making significant improvements in quality and patient safety."
"When the situation demanded a bold vision, Paul delivered. When austerity was the order of the day, Paul answered with compassion," Kay wrote.
Kay is meeting with employees during two sessions this afternoon.
About white coat notes
|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor
Elizabeth Comeau, Senior Health Producer