Must-Read: Eileen McNamara Savages Paul Levy In Boston Magazine

Wow, Eileen McNamara can really wield a knife — I mean, pen.

In a piece titled "The Getaway," The Pulitzer-Prize-winning former Globe columnist verbally tars and feathers Paul Levy, the chief of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She not only digs up new details about his "inappropriate relationship" with a young subordinate; she portrays the whole affair and how it was handled as symptomatic of the back-scratching cronyism endemic to leadership circles in this incestuous town. Don't take my word for it — it's really worth a full read here.

I take issue with two of Eileen's points. She writes that Paul has engaged in "an orgy of self-absorption that he has managed to market as “transparency” to a city full of smitten scribes." In my reporting experience, it's not just "transparency" in quotes. Beth Israel Deaconess really is committed to being open in a way other local hospitals are not. Example: When I worked at the Globe, a Beth Israel Deaconess neurologist invited me to observe a promising operation, and when the outcome was not as stellar as hoped, the hospital made no effort to keep me from publishing the story. I've never had another hospital even dare to invite me to an operation when the outcome was not completely assured. They tend to seek publicity only once they know the news is good.

And unlike Eileen, I love Paul Levy's blog, Running a Hospital. She calls him "preening;" if that's what it is, I wish all our local hospital chiefs had more of the peacock in them.

Second, the "Getaway" title stems from her description of Boston as a small town co-opted, leaders and journalists too well-cultivated by Paul to take him to task as she thinks he deserves. Well, there's a downside to the small-town phenomenon, too: It's a small town with a long memory. Eileen may think Paul's getting off easy. To me, he's like a kid in a small school who does something really out of line in kindergarten; that reputation will stay with him a long, long time...

Readers, if you check out the Boston Magazine piece, please write your reactions in the Comments section below. And Paul Levy, if you read this, of course we understand your constraints, but what's the point of having your own blog if you can't answer accusations like this in your own words, direct to the public? We're ready and waiting to link to your response...!

This program aired on December 1, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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