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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Friday, July 20, 2007

Beth Israel Deaconess makes leadership changes

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

Curious changes are afoot among department heads at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Carol Warfield, chief of anesthesia, sent an e-mail to colleagues on Wednesday, saying that hospital chief executive Paul Levy had dismissed her as chair effective immediately.

"To say the least, I was shocked," Warfield wrote. She said that she was planning to return from sabbatical in two weeks and that Levy, whom she said notified her by e-mail, gave her no reason for the dismissal.

She took over eight years ago when the department was in turmoil, and said in her e-mail that it is in "excellent financial health" today.

"After being here for 30 years, I hope to continue as a member of the department," Warfield wrote, "but since this was so sudden I have no specific plans right now."

Warfield could not be reached for comment. Hospital spokeswoman Judy Glasser said Warfield has stepped down, but she couldn't say more.

"We can't comment on personnel issues," she said.

The change in the anesthesiology department comes a week after Dr. Josef Fischer, chairman of surgery, wrote a letter to surgeons, saying that he is so busy he needs help running the department. Since October, Fischer has served as chairman of the Board of Regents for the American College of Surgeons.

With Levy's "approval and encouragement," Fischer said, he has formed an executive committee of four doctors to help run the department -- an unusual arrangement at an academic medical center.

Fischer continued to say that since he would be away a lot over the next year, a member of the executive committee will accompany him to all major meetings "so there is no loss of continuity of conversation, analysis or decision-making."

Levy and Fischer, through a hospital spokeswoman, both declined to comment on the new arrangement.

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