opinion | Gary L. Gottlieb

Partners HealthCare gets bad rap in health debate

“We have made a commitment to the Commonwealth and our patients to lead in improving health care quality and addressing cost,” writes Dr. Gary L. Gottlieb, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe/file 2010

“We have made a commitment to the Commonwealth and our patients to lead in improving health care quality and addressing cost,” writes Dr. Gary L. Gottlieb, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare.

The complete story of Partners HealthCare has not been told in The Boston Globe, although one columnist recently acknowledged that Partners hospitals are “world-class.’’ Part of our untold story is that one in six of the patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s is transferred from another hospital, including the major medical centers in the Boston area. That’s because our doctors, nurses, care teams, and researchers are tireless in their efforts to care for patients and to find cures for people with the most complex illnesses who have nowhere else to turn for answers. Yes, it can be more expensive to provide this care, but is there one of us who doesn’t want to have these resources available for our families and our community?

Partners is a major driver of the success of the Massachusetts economy. We are the largest private employer in the state, with more than 60,000 employees, all of whom deserve to be proud of the spectacular work they do every day to support the care of our patients. Our training programs are magnets for the world’s brightest young people. Many of them stay in this region, seeding the staffs of our hospitals and those of our competitors. Similarly, our research and innovation programs attract hundreds of millions of dollars to the Commonwealth; Mass. General and Brigham and Women’s receive more federal funding to advance scientific discovery than any other hospitals in the nation. Together, our people and our research are the foundation of the region’s global leadership in the life sciences.


We have made a commitment to the Commonwealth and our patients to lead in improving health care quality and addressing cost. That is why we worked with the Massachusetts attorney general to reach an agreement on restricting our growth. This plan will create substantial challenges for our organization.

We will become the most scrutinized, regulated health care system in the state if not the country. But we will accept these limits because we believe that working with South Shore and Hallmark Health, superb local hospitals which sought our partnership, will allow us to provide the highest quality care by delivering it closer to the homes of our patients at lower cost. These affiliations will offer residents in their communities a seamless system of care that connects them to their primary care doctor’s office and the resources of excellent local hospitals, the expertise of Mass. General and Brigham and Women’s and continuing care from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital network.

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The story of Partners HealthCare has numerous notable chapters; one that must be highlighted is our commitment to mental health. McLean Hospital, Mass. General, and Brigham and Women’s are world-renowned leaders in providing care to those with brain disease; against the tide of shrinking reimbursements and public investment, we have grown these services and improved their reach while our peers nationally and locally have diminished programs or have been challenged maintaining quality standards. While Partners loses $50 million annually in providing these services, they are core to our mission.

Patients will choose where they want to receive their care and we know they will hold us accountable for quality and cost; we have a responsibility to society and to the communities we serve. We deeply appreciate the support we have received from the South Shore and Hallmark Health communities. Over the last two years, since our plans were first announced, there have been hundreds of messages from residents, first responders, elected officials, doctors, nurses, and care teams who live and work in these communities and look forward to a future with us that will benefit patients and their families.

This is a portion of our untold story.

Dr. Gary L. Gottlieb is president and CEO of Partners HealthCare.
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