Pressure mounts on Beth Israel board to fire Levy

The Massachusetts chapter of National Organization for Women and 1199SEIU are ratcheting up pressure on Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy to resign.

A joint statement issued by Massachusetts NOW State Director Christina Knowles and 1199SEIU's executive vice president Veronica Turner said that if the BIDMC board fails to take further action at its Sept. 23 annual meeting by asking for CEO Paul Levy's resignation, "then it is aiding and abetting Levy in his creation of a hostile and inequitable work environment for women at the hospital."

The heat is on the board as these groups shape the discussion. "If the BIDMC board does not fire Paul Levy, they are indicating that a single executive is more important than the legacy and working environment of the hospital itself," the statement said. The statement also said it was time for the board to take a stand against the "environment of inequity" that has been created within the hospital by the prior inaction of the board chairs and by the actions of its CEO.

The demands came a week after a letter issued by the Massachusetts attorney general's office criticized the BIDMC board for failing to act independently. It's likely that deference to a successful CEO, who was widely perceived as having rescued BIDMC, may have impaired board independence, the letter notes.

The NOW/1199SEIU press release also refers to other patterns of inequity at BIDMC. During the period in which some were aware of the personal relationship between the CEO and a subordinate, BIDMC had as few as three female members on its board of 15. Now only one woman heads up one of its 14 major clinical departments.

Calls for Levy's resignation are not the only thing he has to contend with. Another would be a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by former chief of anesthesiology, Dr. Carol Warfield, that names both Levy and BIDMC. It alleges that she was forced to endure "sexist rants and demeaning conduct...and the insistence on the part of the hospital's CEO that she tolerate such misconduct as part of the price of being chief." A call to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was not returned by press time.

To learn more:
- read the NOW/1199SEIU press release
- see more information on Dr. Carol Warfield's case
- read the Boston Herald's article  

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