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Money and ambition split up Dana-Farber and Brigham

Plus: The Massachusetts job market is tighter than my belt

Build it and they will come. Dr. Laurie Glimcher, CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Laurie Glimcher, who runs Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, wants a new hospital to treat adult cancer patients.

We learned that on Friday when Dana-Farber revealed its expansion ambitions, saying it will end a nearly 30-year arrangement under which its oncology patients are sent to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for inpatient treatment. Instead, it plans to build a freestanding hospital with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

A big reason for the split: Brigham balked at helping to fund a new facility on its campus where Dana-Farber would control a larger number of beds. Dana-Farber currently has the license to 10 percent of the 300 cancer beds at Brigham.


“In my discussions with Laurie it was very important to her that the new beds be controlled by Dana-Farber,” Dr. Gerard Doherty, chief surgeon at Brigham and Dana-Farber, told me.

So important, it appears, that Glimcher struck the Beth Israel deal behind Brigham’s back.

Dana-Farber joins at least a half-dozen prestigious cancer centers that have announced similar construction plans. That’s according to Tara Bannow of STAT, who reported that the list includes Mount Sinai in New York, Stanford Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., and University of Texas MD Anderson.

Cancer treatment is increasingly taking place on an outpatient basis. But experts told Tara that the building boom is being driven largely by the emergence of therapies like CAR-T, in which a patient’s T-cells, part of the body’s immune system, are programmed to attack cancer cells. The new treatments are risky enough that most are done in the hospital.

On Friday I wrote that Brigham and MGB executives believe cancer treatment works best when tightly integrated within a general hospital. They countered with an offer to help fund new oncology facilities at Brigham.

But clearly money as well as medicine factored into their stance.


Brigham didn’t want to give up control of a lot of new cancer beds or the substantial revenue it receives for treating Dana-Farber patients. And a new oncology hospital would mean more competition for Massachusetts General Hospital, also owned by MGB and a big provider of cancer care itself.

Dana-Farber’s contract with Brigham doesn’t end until 2028. So it will be a long time before we see how this all shakes out.

Dr. Kevin Tabb, president and CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health, at a panel before the state Health Policy Commission held at Suffolk University Law School.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Not enough slack

The Federal Reserve is expected to leave interest rates unchanged when it wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday.

Central bank officials have telegraphed the pause in public comments ever since they lifted their benchmark lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point to the range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent in July. (The rate was near zero in March 2022.)

The Fed is taking a wait-and-see approach on whether more rate increases will be needed to get inflation back to its 2 percent target from more than double that level now. It’s particularly focused on the labor market, with officials arguing that demand for workers is outstripping supply.

“The Fed believes the job market is too hot and needs to cool to bring down wages,” Gus Faucher, chief economist of PNC Financial Services Group, said last week.

Hiring is slowing nationally and in Massachusetts, but fresh data show the job market here remains especially tight due to a shortfall in new workers.

The state said on Friday that employers added 15,400 jobs in August, bringing the average gain over the past three months to about 7,100. That’s down from earlier in the year.


The jobless rate was 2.6 percent last month, just a tick above July’s all-time low and 1.2 percentage points below the US average. When unemployment gets this low, people usually jump into the job market. And that’s happening at the national level, which is one reason why the Fed is likely to hold rates steady this week.

But just 2,000 people joined the Massachusetts labor force last month, meaning they found a job or began actively hunting for one. There were still almost 77,000 fewer people in the labor force in August than in February 2020.

Massachusetts is one of the grayer states in the country, and retiring baby boomers are depleting the labor force ranks.

The state needs to find new ways to attract younger workers and better educate and train those already here. Otherwise local employers are going to continue to struggle to fill jobs.

Larry Edelman can be reached at Follow him @GlobeNewsEd.