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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Scott Allen
Alice Dembner
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Liz Kowalczyk
Stephen Smith
Colin Nickerson
Beth Daley
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

After loss of heart docs, Brigham recruits replacements

Brigham and Women's Hospital is trying to replenish its cardiology staff, after outside recruiters raided the department last year. The Brigham, which particularly needs a strong cardiology department as it prepares to open a $350 million cardiovascular wing next year, lost six, or 10 percent, of its 50 cardiologists last year.

They were lured away by private medical companies and by Case Western Reserve University Medical School and its affiliated University Hospitals of Cleveland, which are trying to compete with the Cleveland Clinic -- world renowned for its heart care and research.

In response, Brigham executives have gone on their own head-hunting spree, hiring three cardiologists who will start their new jobs in the next few months.

The Brigham hired two doctors from Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center -- Dr. Frederick Welt, director of St. Elizabeth's cardiac catheterization lab, and Dr. Pinak Shah -- and Dr. Judy Mangion from Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

Caritas fired back, hiring away Dr. Jeffrey Popma, director of interventional cardiology at the Brigham.

Brigham executives say they don't need to replace all the doctors who left, because the new physicians will spend more of their time seeing patients, and a little less on research, and because of a slight slowdown in cardiac catheterization cases.

Case Western last year recruited Dr. Daniel Simon as its new chief of cardiology. Dr. Mukesh Jain and Dr. James Fang also signed on for high-level positions, and three Brigham cardiology fellows headed west as well.

At Case Western, the Harvard doctors have made a big splash. Overnight patients in the hospitals' cardiac services have jumped 25 percent, Simon said. The Brigham doctors also brought a significant amount of research funding with them -- about $4.5 million -- most of which they brought from the Brigham.

Simon said he left the Brigham not because of dissatisfaction with his employer, but because of the tremendous opportunity offered by Case Western's new medical school dean and the hospital system's new chief executive, who promised $20 million to hire doctors and researchers for a new cardiovascular institute.

-- Liz Kowalczyk

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