THE FIRST NEW EMPLOYEE ORIENTATION CLASS of the MGH bicentennial year featured special guest MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, who each January welcomes the year’s first class.
Slavin told the employees that, from its founding, the hospital mission has been to care for the underserved of Boston. Today, although people from all economic backgrounds seek care at the hospital, serving the city’s disadvantaged is still a major part of that mission, he said.
"We are one of the largest providers of care to the uninsured and those covered by Medicaid in Massachusetts," Slavin said. He continued by outlining how improving community health fits into the MGH's four-part mission, which also includes patient care, teaching and research. "I view how successful I am in my job – and I hope you will as well – by looking at how well the MGH is advancing its mission," he said.
Slavin described several MGH medical "firsts" – including the use of ether as a surgical anesthetic, the development of some of the first x-ray images in the United States and the first successful reattachment of a severed limb.
He then provided information about the hospital’s finances and the MGH’s longtime financial strategy of saving just a few cents of every dollar it collects to position itself for future operations and growth.
“It puts us in a position to advance medicine next week, next year and next century,” he said.
At the end of the talk, one new employee asked Slavin about his background in internal medicine and what first attracted him to the field. “I loved it because it was about treating the whole body – the whole patient,” he said, adding that as an internist, he was able to develop long-term professional relationships and get to know those he treated.
A couple of years ago, Slavin said, he stopped seeing patients to concentrate on his administrative duties. “I miss not having my own patients, but I realized there is only so much you can do during your waking hours.”