Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pay it forward

While many of you have submitted comments on this topic, I have avoided posting anything about a recent Boston Globe article written by Kevin Cullen about our town meetings and other events at BIDMC because, frankly, it was a bit too complimentary to me personally. But, there was something about the article that captured the imagination of lots of people, especially during these hard economic times. Yahoo posted it on its homepage that day in the "featured" slot; a bunch of my Facebook friends posted it on their home pages; over 13,000 (!) people emailed to their friends from the Boston.com website; over 800 people submitted comments about the article on Boston.com itself; and Kevin, too, received hundreds of emails.

But I overcame my reticence on this because I need to share with you this email Kevin received. It is really, really wonderful. Perhaps writing about it here will help spread the word to others.

JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW SIR AS A BUSINESS OWNER MYSELF HERE IN FT.LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA. PLEASE LET MR.LEVY KNOW THAT MY HEART AND MY BLESSINGS GO OUT TO HIM AND I THINK THAT HE IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK. I ALSO MAY NEED TO LAY OFF SOME OF MY STAFF BUT AFTER READING HIS STORY I SHALL RECONSIDER. AFTER I READ THIS STORY I HAD A MEETING WITH MY STAFF AND THEY ALL CAME TOGETHER AND ARE ON THE SAME OPINION AS HIS STAFF AND I THINK THAT WE WILL TRY DIFFERENT MEASURES TO TRY TO KEEP ALL OF OUR PEOPLE WORKING. I REALLY THINK THAT THIS NEEDS TO BE ON THE NEWS WORLDWIDE. THE MAN TO ME IS A HERO. THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPORT SIR. IT MADE MY LIFE AND MY EMPLOYEES LIFE A WHOLE LOT HAPPIER TODAY. THANK YOU AGAIN.

VICE PRESIDENT OF EXPERT DIESEL
BOB RUIZ

9 comments:

debra said...

Years ago, I worked in hospitals. My job was, in essence, providing a high touch in a high tech world. I never encountered a CEO who was as candid and inclusive as you. Kudos to you and your team.

Leonard Kish said...

Social Media will be the way to reduce the need for layoffs by reduce costs while increasing outcomes for health care for the next several years to come. For any HC execs who don't have a social media strategy, it's time to begin thinking about it. How is your HC organization "Learning at Scale" with social media? http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/bigshift/2009/03/can-your-company-scale-its-lea.html

gillesfrydman said...

I am not surprised by the reaction of people to the Boston Globe article. We all know that one of the big issues with the current healthcare system is the lack of trust we have in getting a fair shake, whenever we go to see a doctor, buy some drug or go the hospital.

Seeing your leadership in action is more than refreshing! It provides the basis for rebuilding the trust that must be present if we are to be successful in reforming the healthcare system. I hope the new administration will ask and get you counsel on how to improve care in hospital settings.

Every time I read one of your blog posts I immediately put them in contrast with the story of greed and deceipt at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Thank you for what you do!

Albert Maruggi said...

As a business owner myself, it is important to learn from the BIDMC situation that every negative cash flow situation is not solved without some kind of sacrifice. The BDIMC situation does show two major areas that our society must come to grips with at a time of global change. 1) Old thinking will not yield different results and 2) we are as, Stephen Covey says Interdependent. At BIDMC many people realize this. It's not because of you, it's along with you.

I admire your work, but I'm not ready to say you are Michael Jordan, my idea of perfection in the workplace. However, you have two things in common with Jordan. 1) Perseverance toward excellence 2) the good fortune and timing to have others around you who share the same goal. You have echoed point number 2 many times in your writing.

I believe there is a connection between the actions at BIDMC and the cultural changes in our democracy. The environment created at BIDMC, in part inspired by your blog, but with greater credit to everyone who participates in the culture of community there, is a slice of a much bigger issue than BIDMC. I give this issue greater coverage in a recent post that underscores the seminal change social media is bringing to our humanity when used in the manner as BDIMC has done.

You and BDIMC will get much attention for your specific actions regarding layoffs. I hope in this coverage the larger context of community, transparency, and new solutions are not lost.

All the best to BDIMC employees.

catsandmusic said...

Hi Paul: We have started something! When I read the Globe article a couple of days ago, I had the thought that we were modeling something for other institutions and businesses to live UP to. That indeed seems to be happening! As one of your employees, I am so proud of you, and of us.

It occurred to me that we are impervious to any organizing attempts from SEIU (even if their tactics had not been as unprincipled as they have been) because we already ARE a union.

Sara McHale said...

Mr. Levy-

You lead by example and I commend you. Your personal leadership skills are one more reason why I love BIDMC (and its Needham affiliate). Just the other day, my mom and I were there for a doctor appointment and to meet a new friend of mine (one of your employees) in the Farr cafeteria.

In the cafeteria, I picked up a fruit salad cup and put it on the tray my mom was carrying. This was the day after I read your article in the Boston Globe. (I would have carried the tray myself, but I am dealing with a broken elbow due to a skiing accident.) Well, the fruit cup fell off the tray and spilled all over the floor where we were standing. My mom immediately started to clean the floor. A cafeteria worker saw my mom and immediately rushed over with paper towels and said, "Stop. I'll do that." My mom said, "Oh okay" and went to get her lunch. Then the cafeteria worker came over to me and said, "I hope your mom doesn't think I'm a grumpy cafeteria worker." I said, "No, she doesn't. She's just used to cleaning up right away, so I don't slip and fall." (In addition to my broken elbow, I also have balance issues due to cerebral palsy.) She seemed very relieved by my reassurance. Then she went over to my mom and said to her, "I hope you don't think I'm a grumpy cafeteria worker." My mom said, "I don't think that at all. You were just trying to do the right thing." The cafeteria worker was so pleasant and very obviously cared about our feelings and our safety. I hope I will get to see her and many others like her for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I am in nursing school currently. I would gladly work at your hospital when I am done, but sadly I live in Indiana. However, I tell everyone about you and your staff. In these trying economic times we need more of this!

Anonymous said...

So. Mr. Levy is asking nurses to carry the weight of the janitors. Nurses will do that. They are noble, caring people, frequently working 12 hours without a break. Mr. Levy knows this. He is using some people's misfortune to profit from the kindness and self-sacrificing nature of healthcare workers.

Did Mr. Levy mention that his salary was about $1,000,000 in 2005? His bonus alone was $195,000. Did he have the compassion to cut his own salary?

Also that Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, posted an audited $47.4 million gain on operations in fiscal year 2007, and a $39.1 million operating gain in 2006? Where did that money go?

for the hospital to use employee's good motivation toward each other is a repugnant, malignant breach of ethics, morality and everything good.

This tactic was used, also, by the largest health conglomerate in my state (before the recession). It is a standard ploy whipped out at regular intervals to decrease spending.

Mr. Levy is the same CEO that used armed guards to prevent unionization not so long ago.
http://fairunionelections.org/news/b...n-support.html

This blog is simply PR spin to make this pernicious action look like kindness. IT IS NOT.

Paul Levy said...

Dear Anon,

I am pleased you asked, but I am struck by your apparent need to cast aspersions that are mean and inaccurate.

Yes, I voluntarily cut my salary. I reduced my base salary by 10%, and I will forego any possible bonus this year (potentially 30% of the base).

The gain in previous years went to purchase medical equipment, renovate ICUs and other clinical space, and renew and repair equipment in the hospital. That's how it is always used. There are no shareholders in a nonprofit hospital who profit from a good year's financial results: All gain is used to reinvest in the hospital. Read about it here: http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/2007/11/where-does-that-money-go-anyway.html

And here's a full explanation of the time SEIU came to visit in the hospital: http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/2008/09/visitors-in-cafeteria.html