Bok Says Autonomy Hurts Harvard Medical Facilities

The "very great autonomy" of Harvard Medical School within the University has resulted in limited cooperation among medical teaching facilities, President Bok said yesterday in a speech honoring the 60th anniversary of Beth Israel Hospital.

Although the tradition of decentralization has "many virtues which should be clearly recognized," this practice "may not suffice to cope with the new issues that confront us," Bok said.

Speaking to over 200 members of the Beth Israel Association at the Marriot Hotel in Newton, Bok said that Beth Israel, a teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard, is facing the same concerns of hospitals throughout the country.


The "ingenuity to devise new modes of cooperation and planning" is needed to avoid duplication of facilities between the teaching hospitals and the University, he said.


He listed the huge costs of medical care, the impact of these expenditures on the nation's welfare, rights of patients and national health policies as the main areas of public criticism.

Bok also stressed the need for Harvard to influence the development of a national health policy.

"It is easy to castigate the Congress for legislating Medicare and Medicaid without enacting methods for controlling costs and prevents abuses," he said.

But universities and medical schools have done nothing to help the government avoid these problems, he said.

Bok assured the audience that in the next decade Washington will try to create a program of national health insurance and limit health costs.

"We cannot afford to be silent again while these efforts go forward. Nor can we content ourselves with hasty, last-ditch efforts to defeat misguided government initiatives," he said.

But the responsibility to advance rests on the hospitals and universities, Bok added. "If private institutions make no effort to solve acknowledged problems, they forfeit their right to complain when the government intervenes.

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