Something's been going on around the country--and in other countries too--where instead of people behaving in predictable ways as the economy has worsened, they're choosing to use their creativity in service of humanity. The media loves this and there are segments on nearly all the news programs about people stepping outside the bounds and "making a difference," as the NBC Nightly News calls its now-regular segment.
My friend Paul Levy, who's shown up a time or two before here, has found himself in the limelight as a result of the choices he's made as head of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where revenues are off $20 million this year, which translates into 600 jobs. Paul's written plenty about this on his blog; if you click over there, you'll be able to follow the whole story.
Because of his approach to "running a hospital," he took the problem to the people and naturally they responded. After a series of town meetings where Paul laid out the problem, the hospital opened an online forum where people could anonymously post suggestions. They got tons (detailed data on his blog about all of this).
Long/short, through voluntary salary reductions from the top to deep in the organization and some other cuts, like suspension of 401(k) matches and removing payments for people's beloved Blackberrys, they've whittled down the number of jobs at risk to about 140, maybe fewer (I'm losing track a bit).
Enough of the story. Point is that the national press caught on and last night, the hospital was featured on that very NBC segment, Making a Difference, and tonight, it was featured on PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer as part of a longer piece reported by Paul Solman. Afterward, Paul S. asked Paul L. to record a bit more, a six or so minute piece where the hospital guy tells the TV guy how the whole wonderful thing came down and how anyone else could replicate what he'd done in four easy moves: be transparent; provide a forum for participation; be respectful; and explain decisions logically, in plain, straightforward language that people can understand.
Every bit of this is worth your seeing and reading, every bit. Please spread the word.
[Special note to those who know my strange life on trains where I meet all manner of people: A couple of years ago, I was getting off the train in New York when I realized Paul Solman was right behind me. Although we hadn't crossed paths since we both had written for the long-gone Boston After Dark in the deep dark past, I cheerily introduced myself. One thing led to another and next I knew, we were sharing a cab, Paul on his way to visit his 93-year-old father still living in the apartment where Paul had grown up on the Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where my grandfather had lived, and me on my way to my jewels in Brooklyn, aka daughters and son-in-law.]