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Professor Is Suing Harvard Hospitals

Monaco Alleges Age, Disability Bias

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

A Harvard professor is suing two Harvard teaching hospitals, charging them with age and disability discrimination after they released him from his administrative responsibilities as chief of organ transplant programs last April.

In the suit, Anthony P. Monaco, Medawar professor of transplantation surgery, has said that the much-publicized merger of New England Deaconess and Beth Israel Hospitals may have contributed to his demotion.

His discrimination claim is rooted in the fact that he has used esophageal speech since his larynx was removed two years ago because of cancer.

The professor is also alleging that a younger doctor, Roger Jenkins, 45, maneuvered to get his position during the merger.

Monaco, 64, has been teaching at Harvard Medical School since 1962.

In an interview yesterday, Monaco said the hospital told him he was released because of disloyalty, after he advised a former student not to accept a job offer from Deaconess.

Monaco, who is not suing for any monetary damages, said he is more concerned about the issues in the case, especially about having the freedom to mentor his former students.

"I feel strongly that as a professor and a teacher, one must have the academic freedom to advise your students and proteges that look up to you as a mentor," he said. "One must have the freedom to advise them what's best for their career regardless of the institution's interpretation of how it will affect the institution."

Monaco also said he was worried about the eventual consequences of what he perceives as a new focus on fiscal concerns in hospitals.

"I will only state that there are many people in the academic community who are concerned that short-term financial considerations are influencing unduly certain deci- sions which can have a long-term negative impact on academic teaching and research to the potential long-term detriment of patient care."

Both hospitals had prepared statements denying the validity of Monaco's claims.

"Dr. Monaco has been an active and valued member of the medical staff for many years and he continues his clinical and academic affiliations with the Deaconess," Erin C. Martin, spokesperson for Deaconess. "We deeply regret that he has chosen to bring a legal action; however, we have evaluated the allegations and have found them totally without merit. We are confident that the outcome will support this conclusion."

Patty J. Jacobs, spokesperson for Beth Israel, expressed similar sentiments.

"We of course regret that Dr. Monaco has chosen to take legal action but on evaluation of the allegations, we have found them to be without merit and we believe that a court would agree," said Jacobs.

But several of Monaco's fellow surgeons and instructors said his claims are legitimate.

"The major issue is a surgeon, world-renowned and nationally-renowned who has developed the kidney transplant program at the Deaconess Hospital for the past 27 years, and he has just been given by Harvard a full professorship of immunology," said Anthony I. Sahyoun, assistant clinical professor of surgery. "Suddenly, he finds himself being pushed out by a young person at the hospital who is ambitious."

Sahyoun, who just retired as a surgeon at Deaconess, said Harvard should have been more involved in the process.

"Unfortunately, Harvard as a teaching place did not get involved at all, and unfortunately, the deans don't seem to have much control over the different hospital's activities," said Sahyoun, "but there is no question that Harvard should not allow their senior staff to be pushed around like this."

Sahyoun also said he has given similar advice to students about not coming to the Deaconess, and that he did not feel this was at all disloyal.

Peter N. Madras, a transplant surgeon at Deaconess and associate professor of surgery, who along with Sahyoun is an instructor in the class that Monaco directs, said the hospital's actions are incomprehensible.

"Dr. Monaco is an outstanding, internationally-recognized transplant surgeon," said Madras. "There's no credible reason in the world for him to be displaced, and he's fighting the displacement. It's not as if anyone has come up with any charges of incompetence or inadequate patient care."

Madras also said the charge of disloyalty was ridiculous.

"That's total nonsense. If a student comes back to a professor and asks for advice, the professor in confidence tells the person what he thinks is in their best interest," Madras said. "That's his obligation as a mentor and a teacher."

"And if that's disloyalty when a professor fulfills his role than what's left to the role of a teacher?" Madras asked.

He said, however, that he didn't think the merger had much to do with Monaco's case.

"The merger was just used as a smokescreen, probably had very little to do with it," said Madras

Both hospitals had prepared statements denying the validity of Monaco's claims.

"Dr. Monaco has been an active and valued member of the medical staff for many years and he continues his clinical and academic affiliations with the Deaconess," Erin C. Martin, spokesperson for Deaconess. "We deeply regret that he has chosen to bring a legal action; however, we have evaluated the allegations and have found them totally without merit. We are confident that the outcome will support this conclusion."

Patty J. Jacobs, spokesperson for Beth Israel, expressed similar sentiments.

"We of course regret that Dr. Monaco has chosen to take legal action but on evaluation of the allegations, we have found them to be without merit and we believe that a court would agree," said Jacobs.

But several of Monaco's fellow surgeons and instructors said his claims are legitimate.

"The major issue is a surgeon, world-renowned and nationally-renowned who has developed the kidney transplant program at the Deaconess Hospital for the past 27 years, and he has just been given by Harvard a full professorship of immunology," said Anthony I. Sahyoun, assistant clinical professor of surgery. "Suddenly, he finds himself being pushed out by a young person at the hospital who is ambitious."

Sahyoun, who just retired as a surgeon at Deaconess, said Harvard should have been more involved in the process.

"Unfortunately, Harvard as a teaching place did not get involved at all, and unfortunately, the deans don't seem to have much control over the different hospital's activities," said Sahyoun, "but there is no question that Harvard should not allow their senior staff to be pushed around like this."

Sahyoun also said he has given similar advice to students about not coming to the Deaconess, and that he did not feel this was at all disloyal.

Peter N. Madras, a transplant surgeon at Deaconess and associate professor of surgery, who along with Sahyoun is an instructor in the class that Monaco directs, said the hospital's actions are incomprehensible.

"Dr. Monaco is an outstanding, internationally-recognized transplant surgeon," said Madras. "There's no credible reason in the world for him to be displaced, and he's fighting the displacement. It's not as if anyone has come up with any charges of incompetence or inadequate patient care."

Madras also said the charge of disloyalty was ridiculous.

"That's total nonsense. If a student comes back to a professor and asks for advice, the professor in confidence tells the person what he thinks is in their best interest," Madras said. "That's his obligation as a mentor and a teacher."

"And if that's disloyalty when a professor fulfills his role than what's left to the role of a teacher?" Madras asked.

He said, however, that he didn't think the merger had much to do with Monaco's case.

"The merger was just used as a smokescreen, probably had very little to do with it," said Madras

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