Sunday, April 05, 2009

Doing "a Beth Israel"

A friend at another non-profit in Boston related this story. The organization faces severe budgetary problems. At a small meeting of some staff someone said, "Why don't we do 'a Beth Israel'?"

And another friend at a for-profit company related this story. "We have already implemented 'a Beth Israel' and saved 15% of our staff losing their jobs."

Have we become a neologism? (Addendum in response to comments: If so, can we change the expression to "Doing a Beth Israel Deaconess?")

Arlo Guthrie would say:
And three people do it, three, can you imagine ...
they may think it's an organization.
And can you, can you imagine fifty people ...
and friends they may thinks it's a movement.


Jessica Lipnack said...

Further to your post of yesterday about our beloved local rag: The Boston Globe, oops, I mean, The New York Times Company needs to "do a Beth Israel."

Mother Jones RN said...

You guys are going to end up in Wikipedia.

e-Patient Dave said...


Ahem: it's "do a Beth Israel *Deaconess*." :–)

And yeah, what IF the whole world worked that way?

And I have to say, the Globe's union people need to look at it that way, too, just as BIDMC's chiefs (and you) did. Giving back so those less fortunate can keep THEIR jobs is important. Let's not have them be like the New Bedford firefighters who voted 157-39 against pay cuts to save other people's jobs.

Lord knows it ain't easy. We are all in it together, and we can choose to act accordingly. So let's hope the union too pulls a Beth Israel Deaconess.

Anonymous said...

Since I am nonlocal, verify my impression that there has been utter silence from the SEIU on this whole issue? Hoist by their own petard, hehe.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with e-pt Dave. I grew up in Boston and Beth Israel was the hospital that helped the little people from my neighborhood and other working class neighborhoods throughout the city. Deaconess may have had equally skilled MD's and nurses, but they didn't even have an emergency room except for the private patients who were told to come in to be seen.

So I think the neologism as it has developed is accurate. Linguistic veracity, as it were.

Barry Carol said...

Employees who are covered by union contracts know that layoffs are generally determined by seniority. So, if management needs to cut, say, 5% of the workforce, union members will generally vote to keep the 95% with the most seniority happy by not having to make any sacrifices rather than try to protect some or all of the 5% who are exposed to layoffs by reducing their own pay and/or benefits. It’s sad, but I think that’s the reality in most unionized organizations. Here in NJ, Governor Corzine is meeting tremendous resistance from the public employee unions in trying to get them to forgo an upcoming raise and to accept some unpaid furlough time to deal with the state’s budget crisis. Instead of we’re all in it together, it’s more like taxpayers and less senior workers be damned.

e-Patient Dave said...


It appears SEIU is having a bit of a labor dispute within itself. It's planning to lay off a quarter of its staff, which belongs to a different union, which is suing the SEIU for unfair labor practices.

e-Patient Dave said...

Anon 7:36, I was just trying to tweak Paul's nose, remembering how he insisted early on "we honor both traditions." The aspect you refer to is separate; thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dave, but it wasn't my quote, so I didn't think I should change it.

Jack O'Sullivan said...

Even if it wasn't your quote, you can make it your own and tweak it if you wanted to.

Jack O'Sullivan
Bedroom Sets

Anonymous said...

Ree-patient Dave's comment: "It appears SEIU is having a bit of a labor dispute within itself. It's planning to lay off a quarter of its staff, which belongs to a different union, which is suing the SEIU for unfair labor practices."
Karma, baby, Karma.

Anonymous said...

Yes, e patient Dave, thanks for that delicious link. How ironic that there is a union of union representatives, to protect themselves against the unions they work for. That's not a very positive picture now is it? And then Paul cuts them off at the knees by inspiring his staff to fulfill the very same worker-protection functions to which the union lays claim. Brilliant, I say, brilliant.


Anonymous said...

Off-topic, Dave and Paul; I had never seen your final comments on the Feb 13 post; I got so frustrated at our talking past each other that I signed off reading the blog for a couple months. Paul's publicized (and indeed brilliant) response to the fiscal crisis drew me back, and now I have read the famous "shut up" comment! There will be other days to continue that discussion. There is more to learn from each other.


Anonymous said...

Dear Nonlocal,

And I missed you so much! Thanks for coming back.

Dave, having been through near-death experiences, has a very strongly worded perspective on these matters. Sometimes it is hard to listen to, but it is an important one and one that reflects a lot of other people's views.

Mine, I hope, is more modulated, but I have found myself leaning more in his direction as I see the relative slowness with which hospitals and the medical profession take on the issue of patient harm -- knowing, as I have learned, that the slowness actually is causing unnecessary death and suffering. And yet, I am very aware that people in the profession are among the most well-intentioned people in the world and that preaching to them is not particularly effective.

We are trying a different model at BIDMC, with respect to both the delivery of medical care and the treatment of our own staff. It is an experiment, and I don't know if it has applicability elsewhere. One purpose of this blog is to present our approaches and our results -- good and bad -- in the hope that this presentation helps others and also prompts comments like yours that help us do better and think more clearly.

Good to "see you" again. Stay tuned for more!

Marty Bonick said...

I have followed your journey with great interest as we are facing many of the same challenges. I am just starting the process of doing a "Beth Israel (Deaconess)" at our hospital and so far am experiencing a similar response of gratitude and appreciation from our team members for involving them in the process. Though we are just starting out, the ideas are already pouring in!

I am glad that someone has come up with a neologism for what you have done as it sounds much nicer than how it feels to me - management plagiarism! If we are even half as successful as Paul has been, I will know that it was really an evidence based best practice in leadership. Thanks Paul!

Anonymous said...

Have you already achieved the material cost savings associated recycling certain EP/respiratory disposibles? If you have an EP lab, this could save over $200K/year. Peanuts perhaps, but that could also be measured in jobs.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Harvard alum and have been working in research at the BID for the past two years. I just got into med school, and will be heading off to learn how to be a doctor for the next four years. But, when the time comes, I'm excited to apply to match at BID, in large part due to the spirit behind "doing a Beth Israel (Deaconess)."

I've met a bunch of fellow pre-med students and med students in the past few months of interviewing. These are people who come from all areas of the country, but many have said, after I told them I work at BID, "Oh, you work
there? I've heard about what your CEO is doing, and its fantastic!"

Keep up the good work. Knowing you're putting your real heart into keeping this place alive inspires the rest of us to do our best too.