Patient Care

Paul Levy to Step Down after Transformative Decade as Chair of Medicine

Apr. 19, 2019
Dr. Paul Levy
Paul Levy, M.D.

During his 10 years as Charles A. Dewey Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), Paul Levy, M.D., has guided his faculty through the advent of electronic medical records, the implementation of a new compensation plan, the growth of regional and population health models of care and a host of other changes.

Now it’s time for one more change—one that he’ll preside over with the same steady leadership as all the others. Levy will step down as chair after his successor is found.

“I’ve been privileged to work with the best of the best across our clinical, education and research missions,” Levy said. “Our institution, and this department, are full of bright, good-hearted, collegial people, which has made my job a pleasure.”

Levy also serves as medical director of URMC’s compliance program, a position he’ll retain along with his other non-departmental leadership roles. He’ll also continue to care for patients.

URMC CEO Mark Taubman, M.D., credited Levy with helping to expand URMC’s outpatient specialty, hospitalist and general medicine programs.

“Paul is highly respected by faculty and chairs alike, and for good reason” said Taubman, who preceded Levy as chair. “I think he shares the philosophy of former Dean Bob Joynt, M.D., who believed you can’t always be right, but you can always be kind. I have seen Paul time and time again carefully hear all sides of a situation before coming up with fair solutions that are sensitive to all.”

“Paul has provided thoughtful and insightful leadership for the Department of Medicine, one of our most expansive and complex departments, during his tenure as chair,” University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group (URMFG) CEO Mike Rotondo, M.D., said. “Moreover, he has been a sage advisor and leader over the course of development of URMFG. We will miss his provocative, probing questions and his practical solutions to challenging problems.”

A Legacy of Expertise, Common Sense

Levy arrived at URMC as a resident in 1982. By the early 1990s, he was mentoring the next generation of clinicians, including Strong Memorial Hospital CMO Michael Apostolakos, M.D.

“He’s one of the best diagnosticians I’ve ever met,” Apostolakos said. “As an educator and mentor, he was equally impressive. Paul is a fountain of knowledge, but when he doesn’t know something, he’s the first one to admit it and go find an answer. He has that perfect combination of medical knowledge and common sense.”

Levy was named interim chair of Medicine in 2009 and chair a year later. During his tenure, he worked to strengthen the department’s ability to adapt and grow. He underscored the importance of a dedicated physician role in providing high-quality inpatient care by expanding the Hospital Medicine Division within the department, and boosting physician coverage across the dozen-plus medicine inpatient specialties at Strong and Highland hospitals.

Levy appointed seven new division chiefs, and over the years supported philanthropy efforts that resulted in seven new endowed professorships, bringing the total to 18 in the department. Faculty growth and increased diversity also flourished. Today there are nearly 500 faculty in the Department of Medicine, of whom 38 percent are women.

“He has led our department through several transitions of care delivery and has eagerly embraced new models, putting us in a strong, strategic position for the challenges ahead,” said Marc Berliant, M.D., Medicine’s vice chair for clinical programs.

Levy also kept a sharp eye on national issues impacting faculty. Working closely with senior associate dean for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Lyness, M.D., he helped navigate the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s approach to ensuring compliance with new professional disclosure requirements. He was a founding member of a steering committee designed to guide and review potential conflicts of interest and led the development of an online survey and database tool for faculty to efficiently log disclosures annually.

Levy’s legacy also includes his emphasis on the department’s research and education missions, including the expanded efforts to foster research-program development in strategic areas, and the expansion of in-depth faculty mentoring and career development programs. He’s especially proud of working with his leadership team to institute an annual pilot grant program which, now in its fourth year, supports research pilot awards as well as educational and clinical innovation projects.

“He always asks how anything we’re planning will benefit our researchers and educators,” said Stephen Hammes, M.D. Ph.D., the Department of Medicine’s new vice chair for Research and Academic Affairs. “That has been a huge plus for the department, as has his collaborative leadership style. He often says, ‘I don’t want “yes” men or women. I want people who say what they think.’”

Not only does Levy listen—he’s a straight shooter who strives to do the right thing, said Robert McCann, M.D., Highland Hospital’s chief of Medicine and CEO of Accountable Health Partners (AHP). That attitude, coupled with Levy’s other leadership abilities, has been a boon to the department.

“He has great ideas for adapting to the population health model—insight that has been incredibly valuable to AHP over the years,” McCann said.

Levy said he’s proud of his work expanding URMC’s regional footprint and residency program, the faculty members he has mentored and the quality programs he helped build. His colleagues will remember him for all of that—and for the personal touch he brought to the job.

A national search committee led by Lyness is being formed to identify Levy’s successor.

About Dr. Paul Levy

Levy earned his medical degree from Ohio State University. He completed an internal medicine residency at Strong Memorial Hospital, serving as chief resident in internal medicine, and a fellowship in pulmonary critical care at URMC.

In 1992, Levy was named director of Clinical Care Services in Strong’s Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit. In 1996, he became associate chair of Clinical Affairs for the Department of Medicine, and in 2003 he was promoted to vice chair. He was named Ralph W. Prince Professor of Medicine in 2005.

Levy is a member of the American Thoracic Society and past president of the New York State Thoracic Society.