Hospital chief sorry for ‘poor judgment’

Board expresses confidence in him

By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff / April 27, 2010

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Paul Levy, the chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has acknowledged unspecified “lapses of judgment in a personal relationship,’’ prompting the hospital’s board to issue a statement yesterday declaring that it was “disappointed in these circumstances’’ but also expressing “unanimous continued confidence’’ in Levy’s leadership.

In a written statement provided to the Globe, board chairman Stephen B. Kay said: “Recently, a letter was sent anonymously to some of our board members and it involved allegations about our CEO. Even though the letter was anonymous, the board felt it needed to conduct further inquiry and has done so. . . . It is the policy of this hospital to take all allegations seriously.’’

Kay’s statement did not describe the nature of the allegations, and he did not return phone calls from the Globe.

Kay said the board did not receive a complaint and found no violation of law or hospital policy. But, he said, Levy “did acknowledge lapses of judgment in a personal relationship, and the board is taking appropriate action.’’

He did not describe the nature of the board’s action. Judy Glasser, hospital spokeswoman, said the board would not provide more details because it does not discuss personnel matters with the public.

“We are disappointed in these circumstances, but the board expressed unanimous continued confidence in Mr. Levy’s leadership of the medical center,’’ Kay’s statement concluded.

Levy did not return phone calls from the Globe. Last night, however, he e-mailed an apology to hospital employees.

“Our board recently received an anonymous letter concerning me and my actions as your CEO,’’ he said.

“The board appropriately conducted a review of my tenure here and found an instance in which I exercised poor judgment. I agree that the board’s conclusion is accurate, and I have apologized to them. I now also write to apologize to you for any discredit this brings upon our hospital and the excellent work you do here.’’

Levy, who has run the hospital since 2002, is widely known in the state both for turning around the hospital’s troubled finances in the early years of his tenure and for his outspoken nature.

In 2007, he began writing a blog, “Running a Hospital,’’ about the inner workings of an academic medical center. The blog has gained a wide following in the health care industry, but has also upset some executives and physicians because Levy at times has criticized competitors. Levy has been a strident advocates for openness about internal hospital operations, including medical errors.

Unlike prior Beth Israel Deaconess presidents, Levy is not a physician. The board has said it hired him because he had run several complex organizations, including the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, during times of crisis.

Immediately before taking over at Beth Israel Deaconess, Levy was an executive dean at Harvard Medical School.

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at