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Boston Medical Center’s Paul Drew Dies

Remembered as “heart and soul” of BMC

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Paul Drew, Executive Vice President, Boston Medical Center

Paul Drew “lived life well, not because he sought or acquired tangible things, but because he loved people and derived great satisfaction from helping others,” says MED Professor Kenneth Grundfast. “Knowing Paul was a delight and working with him was a privilege.”

Paul Drew, the former executive vice president of Boston Medical Center and an influential advocate for neighborhood access to health care, died on November 24, after a long battle with bladder cancer. He was 61.

Drew, whose natural warmth and gregarious personality helped BMC recruit many top physicians, played an important strategic role in the 1996 merger of Boston University Medical Center Hospital, Boston City Hospital, and Boston Specialty and Rehabilitation Hospital that resulted in the formation of Boston Medical Center. For more than two decades, he was a mentor to many health care professionals and served on several professional boards, including Boston HealthNet, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and Boston MedFlight. In his most recent role at BMC, he was responsible for all real estate development, strategic planning, and clinical affiliations, including with Quincy Medical Center, as well as marketing and communications. Drew, who left BMC in 2008, was also the liaison between Boston University and Boston Medical Center.

Kenneth Grundfast, a School of Medicine professor and chair of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, says Drew played a key role in recruiting many of the physicians at BMC and on the MED faculty.

“Much of Paul’s professional success stemmed from his ability to combine astute political acumen with impeccable integrity,” says Grundfast. “I sought his advice often and trusted him entirely. His warmth, sense of humor, and gift of gab made the discussion with him of even the most serious matters seem pleasurable. Paul lived life well, not because he sought or acquired tangible things, but because he loved people and derived great satisfaction from helping others. Knowing Paul was a delight and working with him was a privilege.”

Domenic Ciraulo, a MED professor and chair of psychiatry, says that even in the face of financial losses at BMC, it was Drew who pushed to bring needed mental health services to Boston neighborhoods.

“Paul was the heart and soul of Boston Medical Center,” says Ciraulo. “He always did the right thing. Even though some services lost money, he realized the need for them. It was really his efforts, working with Mayor Menino, that built mental health programs in many neighborhood clinics.”

Ciraulo always admired Drew’s remarkable communication skills, he says, which he himself lacked. “We’d go to meet with community leaders and he’d tell me that he would give me a certain look when he wanted me to shut up,” he recalls. “Then, after a couple of meetings, he said, ‘OK, forget the look. I’m going to sit next to you and give you a good hard kick. That means shut up.’ I was so unskilled at that, and he was just great. He’s the one who really advanced mental health care and psychiatry at Boston Medical Center and in Boston.”

A graduate of Boston College and its Carroll School of Management, Drew held administrative and finance positions at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, rising to deputy assistant commissioner. In 1985, he joined the New England Medical Center leadership team as the vice president of clinical operations, managing the operations of the hospital’s largest departments. He was responsible for developing and managing the faculty practice plan, and he oversaw the expansion of the primary care and specialty networks. In 1994, he was recruited as Boston City Hospital’s chief operating officer, responsible for the strategic planning and management of all clinical and administrative operations. When BMC was formed, he assumed a new role, as vice president of network development, overseeing managed care contracting, new business development, and the creation of the faculty practice plans and management services organizations. In 2003, he was named executive vice president.

“Paul Drew was a great friend,” says Karen Antman, MED dean and Medical Campus provost. “He was an outstanding administrator with a very warm sense of humor. We will always miss him.”

Jonathan Olshaker, A MED professor and chair of emergency medicine, says Drew was a great man and a great friend. “Paul’s tremendous leadership, vision, and guidance made Boston Medical Center a much better place,” says Olshaker. “He was a huge part of the success of all the departments at BMC and BU, including mine. His efforts had a monumental impact on improving the medical care of all the citizens of Boston, but especially the underserved.”

Drew leaves his wife, Kathleen, of Boston, his daughters, Kelly McQuillan, of Boston, and Carissa Drew, of South Boston, and his son, William Drew, of New York City. A funeral Mass was held on November 29 in St. Ann’s Church, Quincy. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA 02445, c/o Dr. Julia Hayes, Research Genitourinary Oncology.

5 Comments
Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

5 Comments on Boston Medical Center’s Paul Drew Dies

  • Elisabeth Drew on 12.02.2011 at 9:28 am

    A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Thank you, Art.

  • BU Public Safety Med Campus on 12.02.2011 at 1:08 pm

    Paul Drew was an incredible person that treated everyone with respect and dignity. It is a tremendous loss for BUMC and he will always be remembered as one of the great forces during the merge. I send my condolences to the family.

  • Jklick on 12.03.2011 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks to the person who wrote this piece on Paul Drew. Paul was an incredible force yet one of the most engaging and warm people I have known. I consider it a privilege to have worked with him at NEMC and BMC and was happy to see the work he did, partcularly at BMC, recognized and applauded. We are all berift at his loss and are thoughts are with his family and other firends, all of whom keenly feel his loss.

  • Dom Ciraulo on 12.03.2011 at 8:22 pm

    Art–Thank you for a wonderful article about Paul Drew. One could never say enough about his warmth, sensitivity, and dedication to the faculty he recruited. He had a great sense of humor. Knowing I was an avid football fan, he adopted a ritual of calling me on Sundays at 10:55 AM, a time when he knew I was finalizing my football picks (for entertainment purposes only) and he tried to make me change my picks. I don’t know if he knew football that well, but I thought he knew more about everything than I, and his persuavive powers threw me into obsessive fits.
    A small group of senior faculty lived on Bay State Road at the time, and despite our responsibilities we still knew how to have fun. l am sure the students saw it as a faculty nursing home,but we saw it as a mature fraternity house. And certainly the only one with the Dean of Marsh Chapel. Dean Hill and his wife Jan were great referees when Paul and I argued about the relative merits of BC versus Georgetown. I also had the advantage because he had split loyalties to the two Jesuit instituitions. Luckily no one from Notre Dame ever moved into the Bay State building!
    Along with his social ease and wonderful sense of humor, he had great compassion. During his period at BMC he recruited major faculty, and convinced us to come because of his belief in our potential, and our belief in his dedication to the health of everyone in the city. I have never met anyone who could speak with ease and grace with senior Senators, while at the same time make true emotional contact with the troubled city kids both of us were determined to help. But most of all I remember the time I walked in his office, a year or two after I joined BMC, and tearfully offered my resignation. An error had occured on my watch, and even though it was not directly related to anything I did, I felt I owed it to him to offer my resignation to prevent him the stress of asking me to submit it. He looked at me for several minutes. He then said, “OK, you told me you were a sensitive guy when I interviewed you. But don’t think that every time there is a mistake on your service you are going to come in to my office, teary eyed (and also some expletives that are best left to the imagination). This your first problem; get the hell out of my office and come back with a plan to fix it. These are the experiences that will make you the leader that both you and I want you to be.”
    Paul–you are gone, but you live within us and our community.

  • Frank Stout on 12.04.2011 at 5:03 pm

    Art, although we haven’t met, thank you. I had the pleasure of knowning Paul since our time at New England Medical Center. Paul was VP for Clinical Operations and I was VP Research and Finance at what was then NEMC. Paul was a great friend and colleague. Paul taught me the balance between clinical operations and academic research. He will be truly missed and a loss for BMC and Boston Medicine.

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