The Beth Israel Deaconess Dispute
On December 8, 2015, my final appeal battle at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ended with a judgment by the Board of Directors to uphold previous decisions and revoke my appointment as a member of the medical staff after 28 years. This concludes a dispute with the administration spanning more than 10 years involving the aggressive institutional endorsements and annual promotions surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activities within and outside the medical center, including the vulgar Boston Pride parade, to the exclusion of medical facts and traditional values.
Speaking out for staff and employees that find these promotions objectionable and inappropriate for a healthcare institution, I challenged the medical center to be more truthful and honest about the negative health consequences inherent with high risk and unhealthy sexual behaviors and to be more respectful of the diversity of religious and moral views regarding homosexuality.
In presenting medical facts and Biblical truths criticizing these policies and the obvious contradictions to the higher mission of the medical center to protect the public welfare and promote healthy, moral choices, it was never my intention to offend or attack any individuals personally. Nevertheless, my objections were unfortunately characterized as "offensive" to some members of the BIDMC community, and this became the focus of repeated investigations and efforts to expel me from the staff, instead of addressing the merits of the objections and the criticism itself.
Over the years, BIDMC became more aggressive about efforts to silence these concerns, even resorting to the creation of a special "gag order" in 2011 designed to silence the expression of my concerns within the medical center. This past year a team of Boston lawyers hired by the medical center accused me of violations of the "gag order" and hospital bylaws in their case to have my staff appointment revoked.
Rather than resign as BIDMC initially requested, I engaged in the internal appeals process with help from my legal team from Liberty Counsel. I hoped to show BIDMC policy-makers the ultimate issues at stake and the hypocrisy of a one-sided definition of "offensive" that ignores both medical facts and religious and moral convictions. In its decision to expel me from the medical staff, it is evident that BIDMC no longer has room for the open, honest, and respectful discussion of medical issues or personal beliefs, nor a true fidelity to its stated mission of promoting healthy choices and lifestyles. Instead, it has chosen the path of political correctness and the promotion of a social agenda unrelated to the practice of medicine or the advancement of healthcare and the public welfare.
Despite an outpouring of public support, the Board of Directors was unwilling to address the real issues here. Voicing medical facts, religious convictions, or traditional morality is now apparently punishable by dismissal if a member of the staff claims to be offended by such views. While I am deeply disappointed in the outcome from these decisions, I feel that we have fought "the good fight" and brought these valid concerns into the spotlight of the public arena. I am grateful for the high level of support from social conservatives, people of faith, and organizations dedicated to traditional values. Many have written letters, emailed, demonstrated, and signed petitions in my behalf and for the cause of holding healthcare institutions to the higher standard of protecting the public welfare.
I end my long affiliation with BIDMC with sincere regrets that the administration and Directors have departed from the institution’s higher mission and calling in favor of following a highly controversial social agenda. I do value the many personal and professional relationships fostered there over many years. For my part, I intend to continue my medical practice elsewhere and will continue to fulfill my responsibility as a doctor by advocating for healthy and moral choices.
The Faulkner Hospital Dispute
On November 20, 2015, The Brigham & Women's Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) denied my reappointment to the staff after 28 years based upon the BIDMC dispute. Incidentally, the openly gay president of the hospital had issued a directive for all employees and staff to wear "rainbow insignias" on their name badges and prepare for a new culture of inclusiveness and welcoming to the LGBT community. An appeal process dragged out over one year by hospital attorneys again denied reappointment despite sound legal arguments from my counsel. Here is my statement regarding the Faulkner debacle.
The appeal hearings on the denial of my staff reappointment in November 2015 by Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) failed to show any misconduct directly affecting the hospital, patient care, staff or employees during my 28 years of tenure as a member in good standing on the medical staff. With the exception of one minor infraction on a recredentialing application 3 years ago, I have maintained an unblemished record at Faulkner Hospital, free of complaints relating to patient care, safety, or competence. I am proud of my record and reputation for compassionate care of patients from all backgrounds. I have had cordial and respectful interactions with hundreds of patients and staff. There are no negative performance evaluations by my supervisors or peers.
I have been accused of conduct that does not “comport” with accepted standards for members of medical staff in relation to my dispute and subsequent disciplinary action with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center over opposition to promotional policies for certain LGBT activities, including the Boston “Pride Parade.” The accusations and denial of reappointment by credentialing committees and supported by the Chief Medical Officers (CMO’s) of BWH and FH are based on a limited understanding of that dispute obtained from one source (BIDMC) and reflect an unjustified bias against a world view supported by medical facts and the concerns of social conservatives and people of faith. I strongly reject and refute the additional criticism by Faulkner’s CMO that characterizes my conduct as “unprofessional” and accuses me of espousing “bad medical advice” in regards to concerns expressed publicly about health risks of certain LGBT behaviors and lifestyle.
During these proceedings, I have submitted data and information from highly credible medical sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support the view that elements of the LGBT community comprise a group who engage in high risk behaviors with significant negative medical consequences. A summary of some of the salient points are:
1) Male homosexuals (men who have sex with men, abbreviated MSM) comprise 2-3% of the total population, but account for more than 50% of active cases of HIV and 2/3 of new cases, despite more than 2 decades of “warnings” and massive public information messages about “safe sex.”
2) MSM is the only group where the incidence of syphilis is on the rise, despite these same messages.
3) The group within the category of MSM who are most affected by HIV transmission are in a young age group (13-24) and nonwhites, at the very least confirming poor penetration of the “safe sex” message to this group already prone to high risk behaviors.
4) Anal intercourse is the highest risk behavior for spread of HIV (other than blood transfusion), exceeding sharing needles among intravenous drug users (2X risk) or vaginal intercourse (17 x risk)
5) There is consistently a higher incidence of other adverse medical conditions among the GLBT community, including anal cancer, hepatitis, depression, and suicide.
6) HIV/AIDS deaths still exceed levels before effective treatment, indicating it is still a significant lethal disease.
The contention of Faulkner’s CMO that “it’s all about unprotected sex, not the type of sex” is a HUGE over-simplication and misrepresentation of the facts. The above citations indicate the fallacy of attributing the major differences in outcomes to just failure to engage in “safe sex.” The risk has A LOT to do with promiscuity, risk taking behaviors, and the type of sex, i.e. anal intercourse. These are admittedly not unique to the LGBT community, but are a much bigger part of their sexual behaviors (anal intercourse is a “sine qua non” of MSM).
As a practicing urologist and longtime advocate for healthy lifestyle choices, including healthy sexual behaviors, I submit that I am highly qualified to share my medical expertise and medical facts, with other healthcare professionals and the public. In doing so, I am fulfilling my professional duties and obligation to protect the public welfare. This is not unprofessional, unethical, unscientific or inappropriate. On the contrary, the prevailing attitude of the members of the credentialing process to overlook the facts or simply chalk them up to “unprotected sex,” ignores the obvious need for accurate information, sends the wrong message to the public, and places political correctness and a social movement ahead of good medical advice and policy. Such an attitude ultimately does a great disservice to the public at best, and at worst is complicit with a deception perpetrated on the public by a self-serving political-social agenda that these behaviors are harmless and admirable. The committees’ willingness to overlook or understate high risk behaviors common to the LGBT community is contradictory to the larger mission of a healthcare institution to promote and model healthy choices and lifestyles.
The lack of forthright information sharing about health risks associated with lifestyles common to the LGBT community has been my criticism of BIDMC policies that are highly promotional, endorsing, and celebratory of the LGBT movement. The disciplinary actions by BWFH are a form of collusion to deny my reappointment to the medical staff, and thereby significantly limit my livelihood and negatively impact my reputation. My public statements made outside the BWFH are protected by First Amendment rights. The implications of labeling those views as “bad medical advice” are potentially slanderous, and can be scrutinized in the arena of public opinion despite the efforts of BWFH to hide under the inappropriate cloak of secrecy veiled as peer review.
The concerns about unhealthy behaviors and lifestyles are shared by other staff members and a large segment of the public at large. The witnesses who offered to speak to this issue at the hearing were cut short and criticized for lack of relevance. This lack of respect for other worldviews now puts BWFH at odds with profamily organizations, like Massachusetts Family Institute, and faith-based medical societies (the Christian Medical & Dental Association and the Catholic Medical Association submitted letters of support), which represent thousands of citizens and professionals from a cross-section of our society. In the cultural divide over LGBT issues, the decision by the credentialing committees ignores and marginalizes the worldview shared by social conservatives and people of faith, and thrusts BWFH into an antagonistic, polarized relationship with these organizations and large segment of our society.
I pledge to continue to be motivated by a commitment to healthy choices, good patient care, and the best for public welfare. I challenge BWFH to be true to its higher mission of promoting healthy life choices and protecting the public welfare, rather than following a path of political correctness.