Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments (1)

Where Should You Search For A Great Hospital CEO? Try The Sewer System

Well, I know that blog post title probably got your attention. I’m referring, of course, to the unusual career path of Paul Levy, CEO of Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Paul has done wonderful things over the past several years as CEO, including using his blog to promote outcomes transparency (by making his hospital’s infection rates public) and being accessible to all his staff via Facebook.

I had the chance to speak with Paul at Dr. Anonymous’ Blog Talk Radio show tonight. You should listen to the podcast to learn more about the world of hospital administration, Paul’s life journey, and what constitutes quality care in medicine. Here are some choice quotes from the call:

“I’m from New York, actually, which is something you don’t say very often when you live in Boston. I have to explain that I really didn’t want to be born in New York but my mother was there and I felt it would be appropriate to be near her during the time of childbirth… And I want to make it absolutely clear that I root for the Red Sox…

Well, personally I have a checkered past. I had no idea I was going to do this [hospital administration.] My background is in the energy field and telecommunications. I used to regulate the utilities in Massachusetts, then the state energy department in Little Rock, Arkansas, and then I ended up running the water and sewer system in the greater Boston area. I guess running a sewer system is good training for running a hospital…

There had been a merger of Beth Israel and Deaconess in the mid 1990s. The merger failed and the place was about to go out of business. I thought it was worth saving, so I persuaded them to hire me. It’s not the usual path. I hope that not too many other hospitals that are failing would want to hire the guy who runs the sewer system.”

So there you have it, folks. Sometimes the best CEOs may be found in unusual places… Kudos to Paul Levy for spearheading a major hospital turn around, and kudos to the Harvard system for recognizing leadership excellence in an unexpected corner of the world. Listen to the podcast to find out more about this fascinating story.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

One Response to “Where Should You Search For A Great Hospital CEO? Try The Sewer System”

  1. RH Host Melissa says:

    You are right—an eye catching title for sure 🙂

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles