Michael R. McGarvey papers, 1930 - 2009

Descriptive Identification

Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library,
701 W. 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
Archives & Special Collections
12.5 cubic feet
(30 boxes)
McGarvey, Michael R.
Papers document McGarvey, a medical student activist, physician in internal medicine, community health advocate, civil servant, and senior executive and CMO for Blue Cross Blue Shield. Includes correspondence, inter-office memoranda, manuscripts, notes, reports, speeches, appointment records, transcripts, conference materials, pamphlets, articles, newsletters, photographs, reprints, journals and other publications stemming from McGarvey's professional career (1970-circa 2009); his childhood education, (1955-1959); his medical training (USC 1963-1967); and his internship (1967-1968) and residency (1972-1974) at Einstein College of Medicine/Lincoln Hospital. Printed programs, journals, newsletters, reports, meeting minutes, founding documents, manuscripts, correspondence and other materials document his student activism (1964-1970).

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Administrative Information

Access Restriction

Open for research, except Sub-series 2.8: Consulting, 1979-2009 which is closed until 2020. Because the records include Protected Health Information (PHI) as defined by the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), access is allowed only under the terms of Archives and Special Collections’ Access Policy to Records Containing Protected Health Information.

Use Restriction

The Archives and Special Collections of the Columbia University Health Sciences Library, believes in equal access to records, administered in a consistent and unbiased manner. It is committed to facilitating research in its rich body of records. However, it also recognizes the right of individuals and of the University's administration to a reasonable degree of privacy, consistent with law and University regulations.

Biographical/Historical Commentary

Michael Roger McGarvey, a medical student activist, physician in internal medicine, community health advocate, civil servant, and senior executive and CMO for Blue Cross Blue Shield, was born September 29, 1941 in Spokane, Washington to Michael Martin McGarvey and Ruby Ramona Rogers. His family moved to the Los Angeles area where he attended John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon (1959-1963; B.A.); producing his senior thesis: Assay of the crustacean diabetogenic hormone. He went on to attend the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (1963-1967; M.D.).

During his medical education and training, McGarvey was involved in progressive and activist issues, such as civil rights and the anti-war movement. While attending USC, he was instrumental in the foundation of the Student Health Organizations (SHO), a collective of students from schools in medicine, dentistry, nursing, and social across the United States that sought to improve health care services for underserved communities. In the autumn of 1965, twenty-five schools first assembled for a 2-day meeting at the University of Chicago. This led to a fellowship program in community health held in California in the summer of 1966, or the “Summer Health Project of 1966.” The USC School of Medicine was a co-sponsor for the project, along with the Student Medical Conference of Los Angeles (USC-SMC). The fellowship supported the work of medical, dental, nursing, social work students from 40 institutions in 11 states, working in poverty areas in California. According to McGarvey, “each interdisciplinary team of students consulted with a local, community-based preceptor,” giving these projects a grass-roots, community-driven voice. Student teams were required to write a final report documenting their project, including purpose, methods, accomplishments and problems encountered. These reports were assembled into a final report for each summer project. The 2nd Assembly of Student Health Organizations was held at the Bronx Community College of Nursing, co-sponsored by the College of Nursing and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Encounter magazine was the official publication for that assembly. Plans for three student health projects, in New York, Chicago and California were launched at that meeting. Subsequent assemblies were held in Detroit (1968 February 22-25), Philadelphia (1968 November 7-10) and Boston (1969), each generating plans for additional summer Student Health Projects which were funded with federal funds from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).

McGarvey was also involved in a related organization, the Student Medical Conference (SMC), a professional organization based in Los Angeles for students in the “healing arts.” He sat on the Interim Executive Committee and served as Chairman (1965). SMC was established by students from the USC School of Medicine, California College of Medicine, Loma Linda University, and the Los Angeles County General Hospital School of Nursing. SMC co-sponsored a fellowship program in community health, held in California in summer of 1966 with the USC School of Medicine, known as (USC-SMC), and also a product of the First Assembly of SHO at the University of Chicago.

McGarvey and William G. Bronston (class of 1965, USC School of Medicine) presented their paper, “A Treatise on Reformation: The Health Student Movement,” at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions on May 17, 1967, outlining the context and development of the SHO. He also sat on the Committee for the USC Medical Student Forum, a group which sponsored symposia to “augment existing academic medical studies to deal with controversial issues related to the doctor’s role in modern society.” Topics included abortion, birth control, psychiatry, medication, and LSD with speakers such as Thomas Szasz, Alan Watts, and Alan Guttmacher.

After SHO leaders began receiving attention for their anti-war stances, the fear of cuts in federal funding prompted the founding of The Institute for the Study of Health and Society in December, 1968 and incorporated in August 1969. It held a similar purpose to SHO: to promote the interdisciplinary approach to societal problems in health care, environment, population, drug abuse, racial discrimination, and professional education by developing the planning, management and operational competencies for the creation of inter-professional service systems; and provide opportunities and resources for young professionals to experiment with new roles emphasizing public accountability. This organization was named by McGarvey, who sat on the Board of Directors. Christian N. Ramsey, Jr. was President and Edward D. Martin was Executive Director. Of note was the conference “The Environment and the Developing Professional” held in October 1969, in which plans for the first Earth Day (April 22,1970) were conceptualized.

As a medical student, McGarvey was involved in social issues regarding the quality and availability of health services to poor and underserved communities, and encouraging minority admissions to medical schools. He carried this point of view into his professional roles as a physician. He served as Intern (1967-1968) and Resident in Internal Medicine (1972-1974) at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Lincoln Hospital—a public hospital located in the South Bronx, New York City.

After completing his internship at Lincoln Hospital, McGarvey entered the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) (active duty: July 1, 1968-July 10, 1970). He served as Special Assistant for Youth Affairs to Joseph T. English, Administrator of the Health Services and Mental Health Administration (HSMHA) in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and was later appointed on October 1, 1969 as the Health Services and Mental Health Administration (HSMHA) Liaison Officer to review youth proposals for funding. During his service, he participated in a group--the “Superverts”--working towards the establishment of the National Health Service Corps. It was eventually established by the Emergency Health Personnel Act of 1970. He received an honorable discharge from the USPHS with the rank of Surgeon.

After leaving the USPHS, he gained more experience in the administration of hospitals and healthcare services in his role as Executive Assistant to the President (July 1970-June 1972) at the newly formed New York Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the agency that ran New York City’s public hospitals. Joseph T. English was the first President of the Corporation. After ending his public health service, McGarvey held positions at Hunter College of the City University of New York (Vice President for Health Affairs and Professor 1973-1978); Office of Health Systems Management in the Department of Health, State of New York (Chief Medical Officer; 1978-1981); Medical Liaison with the Department of Psychiatry at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center of New York (1981-1983). His corporate positions included Vice President and Corporate Vice President at Empire Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of New York (July 1983-December 1990); Managing Director at Alexander & Alexander Consulting Group (1990-1994); and Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer at Horizon Blue Cross / Blue Shield of New Jersey (1994-2000).

McGarvey served on the boards of the New York Academy of Medicine, The Greater New York Hospital Association, New York Business Group on Health, the New York State Society of Internal Medicine, and the American Medical Review Research Center. By 2001, McGarvey focused his career in executive consulting for some of his former employers, along with the Commonwealth Fund, The United Hospital Fund, and Harvard University.

Scope and Content

The papers document McGarvey’s academic and professional career. There is very little information on his personal life. Comprised of correspondence, inter-office memoranda, manuscripts, notes, reports, speeches, transcripts, conference materials, pamphlets, articles, newsletters, reprints, journals and other publications stemming from McGarvey’s professional career (1970-circa 2009); his childhood education, (1955-1959); his medical training (USC 1963-1967); and his internship (1967-1968) and residency (1972-1974) at Einstein College of Medicine/Lincoln Hospital. Printed programs, journals, newsletters, reports, meeting minutes, founding documents, posters, manuscripts, correspondence and other materials document his student activism and work with the Student Health Organizations (1964-1970), Medical Student Forum, Student Medical Conference, and the Institute for the Study of Health and Society.

Conference materials include manuscripts, speeches, correspondence, bound presentations, and color slides. Several photographs, the bulk black and white portraits; were found throughout the papers and separated into one folder. In addition to the SHO materials, records documenting the military draft involve guidelines for early career doctors. His various appointments are well-documented in personnel files arranged under respective series/subseries. Correspondence was maintained in chronological order and sorted into respective series/sub-series. Correspondence between McGarvey and his mentor, Joseph T. English, is arranged with the appropriate organizations. Other colleagues represented include Edward Dana Martin, former President of the Student American Medical Association (1969-1970) and Assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Community Health Services, Department of Health, Environment, and Welfare (HEW); and Richard A. Berman, former Director of the New York State Office of Health systems Management. Includes three video recordings from work with Blue Cross / Blue Shield.

Controlled Access Headings

Components List

  • Education and medical training, 1955 - 2002

    Scope and Content:

    Arranged by educational institution, the Student Health Organizations (SHO), and United States Public Health Service—the latter included as “training,” although post-M.D. Student records, in the form of manuscripts, grades, assessments, and letters document his undergraduate and medical school education. Material relating to his student activism is arranged with institution or “General.” Institute for the Study of Health and Society records were arranged with general professional files in Series 2. U.S. Public Service records include McGarvey’s active service records and meeting minutes relating to the National Service Corps. Lincoln Hospital records originate from his roles as Intern and Resident—those stemming from his position at HHC are found in that respective series and sub-series. USC Medical Student Forum and SHO posters are found in Series 3.

    • General, 1963 - 1971

      Scope and Content:

      Includes Primary Care Seminar materials, sponsored by the community Health Service (CHS), lists of Peace Corps physicians, Student American Medical Association materials regarding Conference on Community Health Projects (1970-1971), founding documents and printed materials for the Student Medical Conference (SMC), and “A Treatise on Reformation: The Health Student Movement” (1967), presented to the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions by McGarvey and William Bronston. Includes proceedings and other documents relating to labor organization efforts by House Staff from Montefliore Hospital in the Bronx culminating in the First National House Staff Conference, held in St. Louis, Missouri (March 18-21, 1971).

    • Primary and secondary schools, 1955 - 1959

      Scope and Content:

      Includes notebooks, student papers and essays from his childhood. His high school prom photographs were removed to Series 3.

    • Higher education, 1959 - 1969

      Scope and Content:

      Includes syllabi, reading lists, and other course materials, along with McGarvey’s grades from Reed College and the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine. Includes alumni lists and directory (1971) for the latter. Medical Student Forum records consist of programming questionnaires and letters from guest speakers. Includes five volumes of the USC medical student journal, Borborygmi. Block prints by K. [Raduck?] are found with Reed College files.

    • Student Health Organizations (SHO), 1966 - 2002

      Scope and Content:

      Includes programs, printed material, notes, correspondence, and other materials produced and resulting from 4 assemblies organized by SHO, 1967-1969, and the printed reports for individual Student Health Projects conducted in the summers of 1966-1969, arranged alphabetically. Pamphlets and other printed matter from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) are filed with the 5th Assembly held in Boston, 1969. Includes journals and/or newsletters from the various branch SHO, arranged alphabetically. Includes histories of the development of the SHO and press clippings and publicity surrounding the organization’s activities.

    • United States Public Health Service records, 1967 - 1989

      Scope and Content:

      Includes “statements of service” records regarding McGarvey’s active duty or commissioned officer status, and other personnel records; in addition to correspondence from the Veterans Administration. Includes correspondence from Joseph T. English and McGarvey’s appointment letter as Special Assistant for Youth Affairs. Of note is a folder: “Superverts” Meeting Minutes and Correspondence, 1968-1971; documenting McGarvey’s role in the establishment of the National Service Corps. Also contains proposal for National Health Corps legislation, authored by Laurence J. Platt, Supervert member.

    • Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Lincoln Hospital, 1967 - 2001

      Scope and Content:

      Includes personnel records regarding his residency, training documents, and correspondence regarding a grievance with a co-worker at Lincoln Hospital; in addition to patient summaries, reports. Includes issues of Current, official publication of Einstein College of Medicine.

  • Professional work, 1930 - 2009

    Scope and Content:

    Correspondence, speeches, by-laws, contracts, curricula vitae, conference material, reports, pamphlets, drafts and printed articles, press clippings, and publications relating to McGarvey’s professional work after receiving his M.D. degree and hospital training are found in this series, and further arranged into subseries corresponding to his positions. Material not relating to a specific position, or overlapping positions, is found in subseries: General. His personnel records, including appointment and resignation letters, are well represented for many subseries.

    • General, 1930 - 2000

      Scope and Content:

      Includes files relating to the various professional organizations and institutes in which McGarvey participated, such the New York Academy of Medicine, Institute for the Study of Ethics & the Life Sciences, and Institute for the Study of Health and Society. The latter includes founding documents and contracts. Includes writings by McGarvey, such as Community Based Medical Education, co-authored by W. Donald Weston and James Blake Thomas (1970); and writings by others, arranged topically or by author. Curricula vitae and biographical blurbs are filed: Career Histories. Letters of interest for positions not represented elsewhere are filed: Applications of Employment. Writings not authored by McGarvey include publications and reprints.

    • New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), 1968 - 1974

      Scope and Content:

      Includes correspondence between McGarvey and Joseph T. English, President of HHC; memos and guidelines regarding the establishment of community advisory boards, particularly for Lincoln and Harlem Hospitals; community relations; organizational charts, staff lists, staff recruitment draft by English.

    • Hunter College of the City University of New York, 1973 - 1979

      Scope and Content:

      Contains correspondence as Vice Provost of Health Affairs, the bulk carbon copies of outgoing letters in reverse chronological order; McGarvey’s own personnel records; reports sent to the President’s Office from McGarvey; and his lecture notes for course(s) taught as Professor in the School of Health Sciences.

    • New York State Department of Health Office of Health Systems Management (HOHSM), 1978 - 1981

      Scope and Content:

      The bulk contains letters, memoranda and other routine incoming and outgoing correspondence between McGarvey as Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director, Health Facilities Standards and Control; and other city, state, and federal administrators, and professional colleagues; maintained in reverse chronological order, and titled “Daybook.”

    • St. Vincent's Hospital, 1981 - 1983

      Scope and Content:

      Correspondence as Chief Medical Liaison to the Department of Psychiatry, invitations for talks, letters of recommendation, and thoughts on policies involving patients and other routine business. Includes one folder of personnel records for McGarvey.

    • Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS), 1984 - 2000

      Scope and Content:

      Records stemming from both Empire BCBS of New York and Horizon BCBS of New Jersey are alphabetically arranged together, although not sequential. Material found in “Conferences and Presentations” and “Speeches and Articles” may overlap, and contain drafts, clippings, presentation slides and correspondence; the former also contain programs, and travel documents. Correspondence to Alexander & Alexander originates from McGarvey’s role at BCBS. Press clippings includes those reporting the U.S. Senate subcommittee investigation into BCBS financial officer Jerry Weissman, who was eventually convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in reporting false financial information in 1997.

    • Alexander & Alexander, 1990 - 1994

      Scope and Content:

      Drafts and correspondence for articles authored by McGarvey; copies of the company’s publication, Commerce; reports from the Health Strategies Group regarding business strategies; speeches; and McGarvey personnel records. Clippings relate to health screening and rising costs of healthcare.

    • Consulting, 1979 - 2009

      Scope and Content:

      The bulk consists of invoices, correspondence, and reports between McGarvey and clients, such as the United Hospital Fund and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Some correspondence comprises printed out email messages.

      Use Restriction:

      This subseries is closed until 2020.

  • Non-print media and oversize, 1959 - 1990

    Scope and Content:

    Photographs, the bulk consisting of black and white headshots and group portraits, arranged chronologically. Posters for various USC Medical Student Forum talks and Student Health Project, and other events, many designed by Rick Drobner. Includes three VHS videotapes by Health Information Reporting Company (HIRCO), a development out of several Blue Cross / Blue Shield organizations, collected data from the participating control plans, formatted the data according to uniform definitions, and performed analyses to help the customer understand how their health benefits plan were being used, the cost, and to help formulate recommendations for plan improvement.