Skip to contents
In This Issue:
BWH mourns the loss of Phyllis Jen, MD, 60, a loving wife and mother, beloved colleague, gifted clinician and brilliant mentor. She passed away April 21 in a tragic accident.
“Phyllis cared for her patients and so many of us in the broadest sense of the word,” said Joseph Loscalzo, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Medicine. “Her absence is already painfully obvious to our community.”
Dr. Jen was unwavering in her dedication to Brigham Internal Medicine Associates (BIMA), where she began as a primary care physician in 1976 and became medical director in 1982. She was active in many initiatives to enhance and maintain care for underserved populations throughout her career.
“Whether you worked here for 25 years or three months, she knew who you were, what job you did and took the time to make you feel special,” said Janice Dolan, practice administrator for BIMA, who worked with Dr. Jen for 20 years. “She was an amazing leader, a brilliant doctor and your best friend. She truly was the heart and soul of BIMA.”
When BIMA achieved excellent scores on patient satisfaction and quality measures, Dr. Jen praised her staff. “She was so proud of them and how hard they worked,” said Thomas Lee, MD, CEO of Partners Community HealthCare, Inc., and a physician who worked with Dr. Jen for nearly 30 years. “She was relentless in her commitment to making BIMA better, and she succeeded in making it a great place with extraordinary care for every patient.”
Dr. Jen also improved care for patients thousands of miles away from BWH by helping establish an outreach program for physicians to volunteer with Indian Health Service hospitals in New Mexico.
“Phyllis always knew that medicine could not and should not be bound inside the four walls of a building; she knew we all had a responsibility to reach out to the community to try to touch and improve the lives of our neighbors,” said BWH President Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA.
Howard Hiatt, MD, co-chief of the Division of Global Health Equity, traveled to New Mexico with Dr. Jen and noticed how she related at once to Navajo patients, physicians, nurses and others. “She was so humble, always eager to hear others’ points of view and a marvelous person,” he said. “My relationship with her was pure joy, and it was a privilege to be her colleague.”
A gifted teacher dedicated to the next generation of physicians, Dr. Jen also was a trusted advisor to many colleagues from across the hospital who sought her guidance and opinion, receiving honest and thoughtful answers almost immediately. “Everyone wanted to talk to Phyllis,” Lee said.
There was nothing she wouldn’t do to help any patient with her unique ability to make each feel like her only patient with quick responses to ease every concern. “She made all the time in the world for you when you were with her,” patient Cynthia Thomas told The Boston Globe.
With her warmth, optimism and constant smile, Dr. Jen was the kind of person people gravitated to. “She was always positive, always constructive and always solving problems,” Lee said. “She was one of the most fun people in the world.”
During her career, Dr. Jen was honored with many awards for her leadership, teaching and community outreach, including the BWPO’s Community Service Award in 2004 and the PCHI Samuel Thier, MD, Physician Leadership Award in 2006. She served as a member of the Partners Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2006.
In addition to her roles at BWH, she served as editor in-chief of the online version of the Harvard University Family Health Guide, a health Web site for the public, since 1999.
Born in Cambridge, Dr. Jen grew up in Maryland and attended Brown University. She earned her medical degree at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, interned at Stanford University Medical Center and completed her residency and a fellowship in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Dr. Jen lived in Needham. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Robert Schlauch, and their children, Michael, Daniel and Amy. A service was held over the weekend at the family’s home in Needham. A memorial service is being planned for a later date at BWH.
A fund has been established in Dr. Jen’s name. Visit https://giving.brighamandwomens.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=356 and in the “memorial” section of the form, direct the gift to honor Dr. Phyllis Jen. Checks may be sent to the BWH Development Office, 116 Huntington Ave., 5th floor, Boston, MA 02116. Checks should be made payable to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and include Dr. Jen’s name in the memo section. Staff also may contribute through payroll deduction, via Peoplesoft Self Service. From there, click Employee, then Tasks, then Voluntary Deductions and Add Voluntary Deductions. Then select “Fund for BWH” as the deduction type and complete the details before e-mailing Joan Senior at firstname.lastname@example.org so she can ensure your donation is entered correctly.