Brigham execs 'stunned' by Dana-Farber split: Boston Globe

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's decision to partner with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center caught the executives of its current affiliate, Brigham and Women's Hospital, off guard, The Boston Globe reported Sept. 15.

On Sept. 14, Dana-Farber and Beth Israel Deaconess announced plans to construct a freestanding inpatient cancer hospital in Boston. The news marked a shift from the current cancer care landscape in Boston. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital have been clinically affiliated since 1997 and their current agreement runs through 2028. 

Sources told the Globe that Brigham executives were aware of Dana-Farber's early talks with Beth Israel Deaconess, but did not take them seriously. 

"The announcement stunned Brigham's leaders, who say they had been negotiating with Dana-Farber for the past 15 months, including over the weekend, to extend the relationship and jointly invest in new cancer facilities," wrote Globe columnist Larry Edelman. "Brigham's brass were confident they would seal a deal within weeks, people with knowledge of the situation told me." 

The local newspaper reports that the new alliance is the product of two CEOs who see Brigham parent Boston-based Mass General Brigham, formerly Partners HealthCare, as a shared competitor. 

Kevin Tabb, MD, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health, is "on a mission to build a big, lower-cost competitor to Mass General Brigham," which is the largest health system in the state, according to the Globe

Laurie Glimcher, MD, CEO of Dana-Farber since 2016, wants the institute to have its own adult cancer hospital, but Brigham leaders reportedly contend that oncology services work best when tightly integrated within a general hospital, according to the Globe. Dr. Glimcher is also said to be wary of Mass General Brigham's consolidation of clinical departments for Brigham and Massachusetts General Hospital.

"We have deep respect and profound appreciation for our Brigham and Women's Hospital colleagues, and we are confident that we will continue to work together to provide an exceptional patient experience. This will continue for many years while we work on this transition," reads a Dana-Farber informational website about the new partnership with BIDMC.

"[Dr.] Tabb and Beth Israel got the best of Mass General Brigham this time. The deal with Dana-Farber shifts the balance of power in Boston healthcare," Mr. Edelman wrote. "But Mass General Brigham is still the force to be reckoned with. Its executives are mad — and determined to get even."

Mass General Brigham did not immediately respond to Becker's request for comment. This article will be updated if comment is made available.

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