Matt Borowski, 40 Walnut St., top photo, said, “I wasn’t particularly crazy about it at the bottom of my street, but I think Bassett has a comprehensive plan, and this is better than what is there now.” However, Andrew Armstrong, 34 Susquehanna Ave., at right, argued otherwise: “It would be great shame if a car, rushing to the parking lot, hit a kid. We’d have to tell him, ‘Public safety came second. Bassett came first’.” After hearing the neighbors, however, the Cooperstown Village Board voted unanimously this evening to approve a special use for the 170-car lot in the former Riverside Drive, behind Bassett Hall. It now goes to the village Planning Board for final approval. “I understand it will upset neighbors, but will it really effect home values? The positives outweigh the cons, but neighbors will feel a detriment,” said Trustee MacGuire Benton. “It’s a small detriment, but it is there.” Trustee Rich Sternberg, a retired Bassett surgeon, summed it up: “The benefits outweigh the detriments.” The trustees added two criteria: The lot is restricted to employees, who presumably would go in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts; and at special events like the Hall of Fame Induction, emergency vehicles will be allowed there. (Libby Cudmore/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – The Village Board is planning a public hearing on Bassett Hospital’s proposed 150-space parking lot at Susquehanna and Walnut at 7 p.m. this evening during its January meeting.
The plan will require demolition of the four homes now on Riverside Drive.
ISSUE & DEBATE
Editor’s Note: Following a sometimes heated Oneonta Planning Commission public hearing Wednesday, Oct. 16, which focused on whether the Lofts on Dietz, 66 proposed units of artists’ lofts and housing, will use too much of the Dietz Street parking lot, this exchange appeared on Facebook earlier this week:
►from ALAN CLEINMAN, president, Cleinman Performance Partners, Oneonta
Fellow citizens of Oneonta:
I feel compelled to challenge the notion that the need for parking on Dietz Street should be the reason to stop the progressive Art Space project.
Oneonta needs these types of projects to provide economic anchoring in an era of retail disruption. We cannot hope to compete by attracting retail without developments that encourage residing in our downtown. It’s that simple.
We are blessed to have acres of parking adjacent to our downtown. Having spent my life traveling, I know first-hand that the majority of communities are not so blessed.
But to fail to develop our downtown for fear of the loss of parking is, in a word, ludicrous.
Parking is not now a problem nor will it likely be if the Art Space project is built. That said, if parking does become a problem, we have the land (remaining Dietz Street lot) to build another downtown garage. Four or more stories of new downtown parking is not only possible, but is the antidote to all parking concerns. In the same space that currently houses 100 spaces, we could have 400-600.
Let’s support this important project and not stand in the way of progress, especially when the solution to the loss of parking can so readily be resolved.
►From JODY SHULER
In my town I hear this all the time. We can’t attract new businesses without parking spaces. They want street parking for people who are too lazy to walk. Yet we currently have business owners and employees taking the street parking now. Parking is always an issue in a metropolitan area. Just build the retail and residential spaces. The parking will sort itself out. Make the area so desirable that people will want to come and do what’s necessary to get there!!
►From MARK DRNEK
With all respect, I agree that this is potentially an important project – and one for which I could normally be counted upon to champion – but I disagree that the issue of its impact on parking is less important.
The positive effect of the building and its projected tenancy on downtown is one that can be argued, but the stress of its imposition on the shopping district and the surrounding neighborhood is inarguable.
Hundreds of spaces removed from the city’s most easily accessible, and most strategically located lot will drive shoppers to other options, and overnight parking to the already overcrowded side streets.
Add the expectation that second and third floors on Main Street will have new occupancy – and with it, increased demand for parking – to the planned decrease in the parking availabilities in the reimagined parking garage, and we court disaster for our retail district and the quality of life in the side street neighborhoods of the City, especially in the Eighth Ward.
With proper planning, and creative mitigation of the impact that comes with any construction, we can build new and upgrade old, to address the needs of our community as we work together for the best possible future.
Progress cannot result from stopping investment in our community. Such investors and investments are few and far between. Here we have investors willing to take on huge risk and invest $million$ to deliver a very worthy project that brings both residents and visitors to our challenged downtown while helping to build our arts community, a very logical lynchpin of our economic future.
The majority of resistance to this worthy project stems from the potential loss of single-level parking. This potential expense could readily be resolved by adding parking levels, moving cars up but not out!
This further investment can be made IF the perceived (not proven) loss of parking spaces actually results in a parking challenge. Further, the investment can be supported by the new, sorely needed, tax dollars that the Art Space project will deliver.
Every project has its benefits and costs. In this case, it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to identify a rather simple solution to a perceived resulting “expense.”
Please focus on removing obstacles to progress, not on creating them.
Each dollar a community invests in the arts generates approximately $9 for the local community according to Americans for the Arts economic impact calculator. Parking is a matter the can be remedied by planning but before planning there needs to be a vision.
Al, as someone with an almost-masters in urban affairs and a lot of years writing about it, I can say you hit the nail on the head.
Downtowns, in a city of any size, thrive when people find reasons to live in or near them or remain in them after traditional work hours. The idea that people will not walk a couple of blocks to something they want is false. Most people who go to a mall or a Walmart actually park further from the store than they would downtown. They do not realize it because of “line of sight.”
As for me, never have I driven through a town and said, “What a cool parking lot! Let’s stop!” I hope you prevail.
By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.COM
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett hospitalized 4,324 patients in 2018, and many of them and most of their loved ones needed to park.
“We’re a victim of our own success,” said Johnathan Flyte, Bassett vice president, corporate services & facilities management. “People can’t get the basic need of parking their car. And that’s what we’re after. It’s part of our goal, to make us more accessible.”
The immediate plan to help alleviate the parking crunch is new surface parking lot on Riverside Drive, the cul de sac at Walnut and Susquehanna. (The plan replaced a parking garage to be built into the hillside, which proved too expensive.)
Flyte briefed the Village Board on plans at its December meeting on the 29th, but a final step before construction can begin is a public hearing. Community members will have a chance to comment at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, the trustees next meeting.
“They are doing everything by the book,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.
“I think there is a level of support, in that Cooperstown generally needs a lot of parking,” Flyte said. The trustees “recognize we are a major contributor to the community, but it all comes down to their vote in the end.
“We have to convince not only them, but the community as well,” he said.
At Bassett, parking for patients is a daily struggle, Flyte said.
“We had a fellow who called. He was crying because he couldn’t find a place to park and his wife was dying. A staff member had to run out and park his car for him while he went inside. These types of situations happen daily, if not several times per day.”
The would-be Riverside Drive parking lot is close enough that it might just be the solution, adding 150 spaces.
“It’s close to the hospital and underutilized,” he said. “This being our property, it’s a natural place for something like this to exist.”
Lots One and Two, in front and behind the Clinic building at the end of River Street “routinely fill with outpatients.” Lot Three, down the hill by the Susquehanna “is used somewhat by patients now, and includes a shuttle. It’s been pretty successful and we want to expand that service,” said Flyte.
Additionally, as many of 41 percent of Bassett’s patients are over the age of 65.
“We have a lot of elderly people here,” said Flyte.
The plans for the new parking lot include a shuttle, which would help senior patients who might have trouble walking long distances.
“We’re a hospital. We want to make it easier for folks to seek medical services,” said Flyte. “People like the shuttle service, it brings them right to the front door.”
Flyte began working on the project over two years ago with Chazen Companies, an engineering consultant firm with offices in Glens Falls, Troy, and Poughkeepsie, “looking at options and refining this plan to make it useful, attractive, and serviceable,” he said.
As part of the planning process, Flyte invited neighbors of the hospital to provide input as well.
“We reached out to our neighbors and even had a meeting here at the hospital,” he said. “Homes are precious in this community. We value them.”
Located as it is near the Susquehanna River, the state Department of Environmental Conservation must also issues permits, and a DEC contractor was drilling test bores earlier this week. Flyte expresses confidence no issues will be found.
“The DEC may come back and say that we need to be further from the wetlands, in which case we may lose a few parking spaces, but they do not have any major concerns.”
If all goes well, the project will be approved early next year.
“We have been exhaustively looking for an answer and feel that this is best for the community and patients,” said Flyte.
Falk: ‘Parking Crisis’
Impacts All Decisions
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal
Yes, Village Trustee Cindy Falk, who chairs the Streets Committee, did utter the words “parking crisis” at a Village Board meeting.
“Literally, anything we try to do as village government or a private entity within the village, parking always comes up – and not in a positive way,” she said in a follow-up interview the other day.
Whether the issue is the proposed hospital zone (she has chaired the committee developing the concept), or the new four-story hotel proposed on the TJ’s site, most of the discussion and objections will be about parking.Recent issues tackled by the Village Board include removing on-street parking from Beaver Street to make way for ambulances, only to add it back in when neighbors complained; limiting parking spaces behind apartment houses on upper Main Street to fire department use, and removing 10 parking spaces on the bottom of Nelson Avenue.
At last month’s Village Board meeting, trustees passed a resolution reminding village employees they are not exempt from parking laws after a resident sent them a letter saying parking rules were being flouted by their staff.
“It’s not a new problem,” Falk said, and to prove her point brought out a stack of past village plans, dating back to the 1962 Cooperstown Area Plan prepared by Blair Associates. In that era of Urban Renewal, the plan called for razing much of the downtown, much of that ignored.
That plan proposed not just parking in the current Doubleday Field lot, plus in Vinnie Russo’s current lot across from the fire station, but razing for parking lots all the buildings behind the block that runs from the Key Bank building to Pioneer Street.
It would have eliminated angled parking on Main Street, driven a pedestrian walkway from the Doubleday lot through the TJ’s lot (then vacant due to a fire) to Lake Street and turned Grove Street into a downtown bypass.
“Every planning process we’ve been though has identified parking as an issue,” Falk said.
The village’s current Comprehensive Master Plan, approved in 1994, reports that in the previous decade the peripheral red and yellow lots had been established, served by the trolley system, “and it’s a huge bonus.” The new plan included a parking garage where the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market is now, but it was “not implemented due to lack of public support,” the trustee said.
While she believes there is a “parking crisis,” Falk said, “I don’t want to give the impression that we’re at a breaking point.” Still, sufficient parking is necessary for a healthy community, as well as for the Baseball Hall of Fame and “a major research and teaching hospital: Everytime Bassett talks about moving something outside the village, I get perturbed,” she said.
Part of the solution is more housing, she said, to create “more employees within walking and biking distance from work.”
Other answers, she said, may emerge from the village collaboration with the Otsego County IDA and Elan Planning & Design of Saratoga to develop a community plan. She expects parking will be an issue when a “charrette week” is convened sometime in October.
Mayor Jeff Katz concurred, saying, “I can’t imagine it’s not going to be a cornerstone of feedback. Certainly, when you talk to anyone who lives in the village, visits the village, knows of the village, parking is always a major topic.”
CONSULTANT WILL GUIDE CITY HALL
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – When it comes to the suddenly controversial issue of parking in Oneonta, Mayor Gary Herzig wants everyone to pitch in.
“If you look at a Google Maps photo of Oneonta, a lot of downtown is empty blacktop,” he said, “It’s not a good use of real estate.”
The subject of parking has been a concern of late, with the Common Council approving the sale of a portion of the Dietz Street Parking Lot to The Kearney Realty & Development Group to build the proposed Lofts on Dietz.
However, Herzig said that multiple studies have shown that there is an abundance of parking in the downtown – but that accessing it may be the issue.
“Our parking regulations are confusing and don’t make effective use of downtown spaces,” said Herzig. “We have spaces for eight, four and two-hour parking, but they don’t reflect the actual needs of the city.”
For example, he said, there are rows in the Dietz Street lot that are two-hour parking, yet remain empty all day. “There’s not a need for that kind of parking there,” he said. “So it’s just a waste of space.”
He has begun conversations with the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, among others, in order to begin a needs assessment survey. “How many spaces do businesses, employers and employees need?” he asked. “Once we know that, we can create new parking regulations.”
In addition to updating the lot regulations, Herzig has begun conversations with downtown churches and not-for-profit organizations about opening their parking lots on days that they are not open.
“There are well over 100 parking spaces in private lots during the business day,” he said. “We want to talk to organizations and see if we can work out an arrangements that is mutually beneficial.”
In addition to creating more efficient lots, Herzig wants to study how Oneontans can better deal with winter parking.
“In the city, everyone has to move their car off the street if there’s two and a half inches of snowfall,” he said. “It’s crazy. These days, we have better equipment than we had when these regulations were put into effect. We can do things more efficiently without inconveniencing people.”
Herzig said that the City will look into changing the regulations; however, Herzig said the snow emergency study would not be done by this winter, so parking regulations remain in effect for the 2019-2020 season.
“There is such an overabundance of parking, but there was never a need to study it,” he said. “But we need to be smarter, and use our downtown real estate more efficiently.”
Additionally, as much as $6.25 million has been set aside for renovations to the Municipal Parking Garage. “We have 450 spaces in that garage,” he said. “And on a typical day, half of them are empty.”
But he acknowledged that he understood why. “It’s dingy, it’s dark, and it leaks,” he said. “It’s not an inviting place. People don’t want to park there.”
$2.25 million of the Downtown Revitalization Money was set aside to renovate the aesthetics of the parking garage. “We want to make it more brightly lit, fix the leaks and add an elevator,” he said. “It will be more attractive and inviting for people to use.”
In addition, $4 million of the DRI was earmarked to create a transit hub for Oneonta Public Transit and Trailways Bus Lines.
Wendel Consulting has been retained for both projects, said Herzig.
“We are working on some design concepts right now,” he said. “We would like to move forward as soon as possible.”
“Parking is something that is never a static situation,” he said. “It changes with time, as more people move in and more businesses are created, it creates a bigger demand. We will always have to adjust the study; it’s in no one’s best interest to have a lot of empty spaces, or no empty spaces.”
Hospital, Community Leaders
Must Confer On Bassett’s Future
Editorial For the Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 11-12, 2014
The future of hospitals is murky, certainly to the general public (and general newspapers), perhaps even to the experts at One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, who are paid to think about it and react to their best estimations. We may reach a point where hospitals struggle to find enough talented doctors capable of doing the most skilled work. However, as long as there are professional recruiting services such as avidian in the medical industry, there should be a sufficient number of talented doctors at our hospitals
It doesn’t take a fevered imagination, however, to conclude that Bassett Hospital and its presence in Otsego County – Oneonta’s Fox included – won’t be the same 10 years from now as it is today.
Earlier this year, an e-mail from Dr. Vance Brown, Bassett’s new president/CEO, suggested it might make sense to shift pediatrics and some other specialties from Cooperstown to Oneonta. Then, earlier this month, the hospital announced it is moving 40 tech-support jobs into a downtown Utica office building, and plans to shift 125 in all over the next five years.
That’s the equivalent of a 125-job plant closing.
Bassett has been saying its strategic plan is seven years old, largely not implemented because of the impact it would have had on its Cooperstown neighborhood. And a new one is not yet ready.
The lack of such a plan, it seems, isn’t preventing action.
At the end of September, Bassett’s Cooperstown neighbors filled the Village Board meeting with bodies and strong objections to a proposed “hospital zone,” fearful such a designation would simplify approval of any hospital projects.
In particular, fears were voiced that a “dormitory” is planned for the 20 students here part of the year through the Bassett-Columbia Presbyterian medical school, which aims to train physicians interested in practicing in rural settings.
A few weeks later, Jane Forbes Clark, who chairs the Bassett trustees’ facilities committee, Dr. Brown, and Jonathan Flyte, vice president/facilities planning, convened a meeting in the hospital’s Clark Auditorium to hear neighbors’ concerns, and such sensible, doable ideas as replacing gasoline-run shuttle buses with quieter, cleaner electric ones were discussed. The neighbors were praiseful.
Such positive outreach should be welcomed by all. But the concerns of neighbors – a couple of dozen households, compared to 24,000 countywide – shouldn’t stifle the larger question:
Are Cooperstown and Otsego County doing enough to create optimum circumstances wherein a Bassett system, headquartered locally, can continue to thrive?
(While we’re at it, whatever housing situation is optimum for med students, who may practice here after graduation, is what they should get.)
The Village of Cooperstown spent 18 months studying what became the controversial “hospital zone” proposal, but officials involved say they have little idea of Bassett’s vision for the future. That’s getting the horse-drawn ambulance before the horse.
In explaining the Utica initiative, it was noted that the new location would allow collaboration with local colleges – SUNY/IT, Utica College and USC, presumably – to ensure Bassett can hire the needed tech-support personnel. We have a SUNY campus, Hartwick College and a USC branch. Why didn’t those conversations happen here?
And parking! Frequently, patients can’t find it around the Cooperstown hospital. And 200 spaces for employee parking were recently moved from behind the Clark Sports Center, where an expansion is planned, to Gary Enck’s former Corvette dealership in Hartwick Seminary; for nurses and technicians commuting from Schoharie or Ilion, that adds 20 minutes at each day’s beginning and end. If parking can’t work for patients or staff, something’s got to give. Please, build a deck.
The late Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, who, among other things, had served on a hospital board in the Rochester area, believed the successful healthcare system of the future will need to serve a population of 1.2 million. Bassett’s eight counties comprise about half that. And there’s the more populous Mohawk Valley, waiting, waiting.
This is clear: Bassett, the county’s largest employer, its convenient and well-regarded healthcare services are among the county’s signature assets, is exploring options beyond Cooperstown and Otsego County.
Perhaps it should. Perhaps it must. But we should expect our community leaders, in Cooperstown, Oneonta and Otsego County, to be fully up to speed on the pressures Bassett is facing, and doing what they can – whatever they can – to ensure the healthcare system’s presence here is as robust as possible for as long as possible.
Mayor Katz, Mayor Southard, county board Chair Kathy Clark – find out how we can achieve that. Dr. Brown, bring the community into this critical conversation.
At this point, let’s not ask what Bassett can do for us, but what we can do for Bassett.
SEQRA To Start Next Month;
Groundbreaking Next Summer
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Two citizens raised concerns about parking – a third called for “net zero” energy efficiency – when developer Ken Kearney outlined plans for a 64-unit art colony, The Lofts on Dietz, to the city Planning Commission last evening.
“As an artist, the building is an excellent concept, one we should embrace,” said Michael Stolzer, who lives in the Town of Oneonta but owns rental properties in the city. “But parking spaces are valuable. It seems kind of on the absurd side to build it on the parking lot.”
Mayor Gary Herzig saw it another way: “I truly hope we have a real parking problem, because it will mean we’re thriving and our businesses are successful,” he said as the meeting wrapped up.
Bassett To Shift 40 Jobs To Downtown Utica
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal
Edition of Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
Bassett Healthcare has located a five-story building in downtown Utica, and plans to move 40 “non-treatment” tech-support positions there from Cooperstown in the next year. That may expand to 125 over the next five years, according to Bassett’s spokesperson.
The 50,000-square-foot M&T Bank annex was part of a complex that includes the landmark “Gold Dome” building, but that’s not part of the real-estate Bassett obtained, according to spokesperson Karen Huxtable.
The decision on the building was announced in recent days and heralded by Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, who said, “This is another exciting day for the City of Utica. Having reputable regional companies like Bassett wanting to grow and expand in Utica speaks volumes of how far the City of Utica has come over the past three years.”
“The mayor agreed to give us 125 parking spaces, which was important,” said Huxtable.
Huxtable said the mayor dedicated 125 parking spaces in the vicinity for use by Bassett employees.
If Palmieri was elated, Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz was pensive. “I would like Bassett to remain focused on Cooperstown,” he said. “The absence of Bassett would be a crushing blow to the village.”
“That’s ‘the game,’” he said of the news. “Any other place is going to welcome it. Some people in Cooperstown will say, ‘Fine, let them go.’ That’s not a good vision for the future.”
This is Bassett’s first foray into Utica, although it has a clinic in Clinton, which is also in Oneida County, and it had been negotiation an affiliation with Rome General Hospital, on the other side of the city, but the negotiations fell apart earlier this year.
According to the official announcement, Bassett had been looking at office space in Utica for the past year. Huxtable said six sites were considered before this one was chosen. A Utica location, she said, is as convenient as Cooperstown for many of Bassett’s employees who live in northern Otsego County and the Mohawk Valley.
The location will also allow Bassett to develop connections with SUNY/IT in Marcy and Utica College to help fill the healthcare system’s hiring needs, Huxtable said.
Bassett’s new president/CEO, Vance Brown, called the new location part of “an exciting partnership” with the City of Utica. “We’re very appreciative of the support of Mayor Palmieri and his team.”
Q&A WITH DR. VANCE BROWN, NEW BASSETT PRESIDENT/CEO
Dr. Vance Brown, MaineHealth chief medical officer and future Bassett Healthcare president/CEO, answered these e-mailed questions from Hometown Oneonta/Freeman’s Journal editor Jim Kevlin about his decision to take the Bassett helm.
1. What was it that interested you in the Bassett CEO position specifically?
Bassett is one of a small number of organizations that I have kept my eye on for quite some time. I have been well aware of their physician employment model for many years after reading about this in the New York Times. I believe that providing clinicians with a salary is an important consideration in helping them make decisions that are in the best interest of the patient rather than anyone else’s economic interests. Bassett has also done a really good job in recent years of building an integrated delivery system—in other words, lining up all the resources necessary for good patient care and a good patient experience. This has been a lot of my work here in Maine the last few years, and the work and model in your region has been of interest to me. When one looks nationwide, there are not many organizations that have the commitment to rural health and the structures that you see in place at Bassett. I had determined a while ago that I would like to have a leadership role in an organization like Bassett; thus when the opportunity presented itself, it was a simple decision to explore this in earnest.
2. When you visited, what impressed you about the place and confirmed your original interest?
The thing that really impressed me on my visits was the commitment of the organization to the missions of patient care, teaching and training of the next generation of practitioners, and advancing the science of what we do. It is also very clear that there is a strong commitment to community health improvement that is very important to me as well. For an organization of Bassett’s size, this is a very ambitious agenda and it is easy for many organizations to get distracted from these multiple missions, but I saw continued commitment to these efforts
despite strong potential distractions.
3. Obviously, with the ACA and other imperatives, challenges await. What would you say are the top three facing hospitals in general and Bassett in particular?
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the changes that are taking place in healthcare delivery and financing are staggering right now. I believe that the major challenges facing all healthcare organizations are in providing access to care for a larger number of individuals, but doing so in a far more cost effective fashion than we have historically done. This puts strains on everyone, but particularly rural delivery systems which face challenges in terms of competition for clinical providers, financial challenges from the relatively poor reimbursement available in caring for more rural populations, and the needs to scale the delivery system across a geographically distributed population in smaller settings.
At some level it causes everyone to ask, “where is this all going?”. I think that it is particularly difficult to bring some of these changes about while engaging in front end care. The situation is not terribly different from trying to both build and fly the airplane at the same time. It is particularly challenging to engage the providers of that care in meaningful discussions while they are so busy solving the day-to-day crises that are inherent in clinical medicine.
4. Can you talk (write) a bit about similarities between MaineHealth and Bassett system? Salaries doctors, rural setting (outside Portland), etc. Have you been involved in a particularly successful innovation at MaineHealth that might be transferrable here?
MaineHealth and the Bassett Healthcare Network are similar in many regards, although the Bassett system is smaller than MaineHealth. Both serve a large geographic region and a largely rural population and experience some challenging weather conditions. Many folks don’t know this about Maine, but it is one of the most rural states in the country—well over 60% of Mainers live in
communities of less than 2,000 which is the highest percentage of any state. We have four critical access hospitals in our system. A very large percentage of physicians within our system, particularly in the smaller communities, are salaried as the economics of private practice are very difficult here in Maine. Maine is also the oldest state in the country on a statistical basis so the challenges of meeting the needs of an older rural population that is aging in place are very
familiar to me.
Being a state with a small population (1.3 million), almost everyone in healthcare in Maine knows almost everyone else. As a result, there is a lot more collaboration rather than competition although no one is a complete stranger to this. As most of our hospitals and healthcare providers are “sole source”, this gives us an extra set of responsibilities to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the community. This has lead to some great opportunities for learning together, and there is a lot of innovative activity going on in the state as well as within our healthcare system.
I am particularly proud of some of the outcomes we have collectively been able to achieve in improving quality. Our organization has almost a 50% statewide market share in the delivery of care and Maine is one of the top 2-3 states in the country for the quality of care that is delivered based upon objective criteria. This requires virtually constant efforts at improvement and a culture dedicated to continuous improvement. I hope to bring continued emphasis on this to the
5. Growing up in small town Maine, what got you interested in medicine?Family members in medicine? A particular experience? An inspiring teacher?
While I am a Maine native, I largely grew up in a small town in Ohio and only over the last 6 years have I had the opportunity to return to Maine to live and practice. For someone from a small town who is a primary care doctor by training, I have had a somewhat different background. I did not know that I wanted to go to medical school until the close of college. I went to Stanford University in California and as an undergraduate was exposed to some of the most brilliant minds in the world of biomedical research. I was inspired by these scientists (many of them originally trained as physicians) and applied to medical school sure that I was going to do basic science research. In between college and medical school, I spent a year in the VISTA program (similar to today’s
AmeriCorps) living in a rural community outside of Muskogee, Oklahoma. I saw there for the first time how many people in rural communities did not have access to great health care or any care at all and the sometimes dire consequences that had on their health and families. That experience stayed with me, and once I got exposed to patient care in medical school, I really wasn’t as interested in becoming a basic science researcher any longer.
I am the first medical doctor in the family, although I have three uncles on my Dad’s side of the family who were veterinarians with two of them having a general practice including large animals here in Maine. They constantly have chided me over the years that human medicine was the easy way out. Having done some barnyard rounds with them a couple of times when I was young, I have to say that I think they were probably right.
6. When you look back on your career to date, does a particular “learning experience” come to mind, something that surprised you, caused you to change your approach or view of your profession?
Anyone who is honest with themselves and gets to the point in their career where I am realizes that they, at times, made decisions about patients which were well intentioned and seemed right, but sometimes turned out to have been wrong. Despite our best efforts, ours is still an inexact science.
This is continuously humbling and difficult to understand when the consequences of our decisions are often so significant. While circumstances and experiences where you have less than optimal outcomes are disconcerting, they are the best teachers—they teach you about yourself, your colleagues, and more importantly about what you and the organization that you work in need to do to continue to improve.
7. Are you married? Children? Are you bringing family to town?
I am fortunate enough to have been married to my wife Lauren for the last 29 years. She is by background a Nurse Practitioner and is originally from Connecticut. We have one son, who graduated from college this last spring and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Remaining close to both sides of our family, which we will be able to do in Cooperstown, is an important priority for both of us. We have had a camp in the northern Adirondacks for about 10 years that we share with my sister’s family, and we hope to be able to be able to use it more now that we will be living in central New York.
8. Is there something in particular, not covered here, that you would like to communicate to your future community?
Given the organizational reputation and the good work that I have seen in my visits to Cooperstown and other parts of the network, I am really pleased and honored to have been selected to help lead Bassett and the Bassett Healthcare Network. I recognize that it is an enormous responsibility and will make every effort to help the organization succeed in its critical missions. I am sure that I have a lot to learn from everyone in the community and hope to be a good listener. Lauren and I are already very grateful for the warm welcome that we have received. I look forward to meeting you!
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Hospital proposed adding 350 parking spaces, including an underground parking garage, during a meeting with neighbors, Mayor Jeff Katz and Village Trustees in the Clark Auditorium last night.
“This came about after years and years of conversation, thought and public comment,” said Katz. “If this goes through, that will be more parking than Doubleday and the business district combined.”
Proposed as a three-part plan, the project would begin with 145 spaces in a surface parking lot on Riverside Drive, cul-de-sac off of Susquehanna Avenue. Bassett owns three houses on the property, which would be demolished.
An additional 200 spaces in an underground lot would be built into the hillside, making the structure will be concealed and unobtrusive. “Having it underground will really lessen the aesthetic impact to the village,” said Katz.
By JIM KEVLIN & ELIZABETH COOPER
Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Dr. Bill Streck, Bassett Healthcare Network CEO, told the county’s Emergency Task Force Tuesday, March 17, that there’s still a shortage of Coronavirus test kits available locally.
Nonetheless, a lot of people have been swabbed at the testing tents set up outside Bassett facilities. “They are out there, and coming back slowly,” reported county Board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, who has been attending the task force meetings morning and afternoon for the past few days.
Streck “said he would not be surprised if some of them do come back positive,” said Bliss.
Still, Bliss and Task Force Chairman Allen Ruffles said, the hospital chief believes, “Things are going as well as can be expected.”
As of presstime, no cases of Coronavirus had surfaced in Otsego County, Bliss said. A Herkimer County case was being treated in Cooperstown.
Streck was meeting with the task force four days after calling a press conference at Bassett Hall, where he and three of his lieutenants, Drs. Bill LeCates, Bassett Hospital president; Steven Heneghan, clinical director, and Charles Hyman, infectious disease specialist, outlined Bassett’s protocol for tackling the disease.
The entrypoint for treatment, they said, was a newly established hotline, (607) 547-5555, that everyone with a cough, fever and other symptoms should call.
People will be reassured, or assigned to receive a swab test. Those results may lead to further evaluation. Bliss and Ruffles said many of those evaluation may be in people’s homes, via tele-medicine.
The idea is to keep people who may be infected out of the hospital, where they may spread the disease. To protect against that, on Monday Bassett also banned visitors from its hospitals.
Meanwhile, the hotline took off: More than 500 people placed calls on Monday alone. No numbers were available from Tuesday, but over the weekend, 200 people called on Saturday and 200 on Sunday.
“There is clearly a lot of demand for that phone line,” said Karen Huxtable-Hooker, Bassett spokesman. So much so that the healthcare network is looking to expand the number of staff fielding the calls.
As of Tuesday, more than 1,500 people in New York State had tested positive for the virus, up from 950 the day before; 814 of the cases were in the city. Twelve people have died from the virus in New York State, including at least seven in New York City.
About 20 percent of Bassett hotline callers are simply anxious and seeking information, and they are directed to the Bassett website or other sources that may answer their questions, Huxtable-Hooker said.
The majority of the calls are people with cold symptoms who are concerned they might have the virus. Staff questions each caller to determine their risk level, and if deemed necessary, they give them an appointment to go to one of the screening tents that have been set up at Bassett facilities. Those locations have the capacity to test for both the flu and to swab for COVID 19.
Flu tests can be processed by Basssett, but COVID 19 tests are sent to outside labs. Huxtable-Hooker could not immediately give statistics for how many COVID 19 tests had been sent out.
Individuals whose condition is more serious are routed to separate heated tents outside Bassett facilities, many of which are equipped with portable X-ray machines.
Most of those seen do not meet the risk criteria for the disease, Huxtable-Hooker said. She stressed that area residents should not go to the screening tents without first calling the hotline and getting an appointment.
Patients who are found to have the virus are sent home and must remain quarantined at home if they are not very ill. They can then be treated at home, in some cases remotely using electronic media, and only brought to a Bassett facility if it is deemed necessary.
The strategy is aimed at helping as many area residents as possible to determine if they have the virus, while protecting people with other health issues by minimizing the risk of bringing the virus into the hospital itself.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Governor Cuomo gave a speech Tuesday sounding the alarm about the expanding scope of the COVID 19 crisis, and asked hospitals to seek ways of expanding their capacity to treat the sick ad to prepare for the worst.
“There is a curve, everyone’s talked about the height and the speed of the curve, and flattening the curve,” he said, referring to graphs seen in the media showing projected numbers of cases rising steeply past national hospital capacity. “I’ve said that curve is going to turn into a wave and is going to crash on the hospital system.”
He called on hospitals to come out of retirement to help with teh effort, and for medical students to roll up their sleeves and do what they can. Hospitals need to find room for more beds in their existing wards and locate additional spaces to expand into.
New York has 53,000 existing hospital beds and 3,000 intensive care unit beds but 19.5 million residents, he said. About 19 percent of those who become sick must be hospitalized.
Huxtable-Hooker said she believes Cuomo’s focus is largely on New York City, because it its population density. Nonetheless, she said, Bassett is expanding its bed capacity for isolation rooms to treat people with the virus.
“We have adequate physician support at this time,” she said. “Medical students at Bassett are assisting in follow-up calls to patients.
COVID 19 tests taken as part of the triage process related to the hotline have not yet come back from the outside labs, so there are no new findings to date, she said.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • for www.allotsego.org COOPERSTOWN – The law says that there is to be no standing or parking within 20 feet of a fire station driveway. But when Fire chief Jim Tallman tried to pull the aerial truck into the station on Chestnut Street after a call, he saw an OPT driver smoking a cigarette, waiting for his passengers. “He saw me,” Tallman told the Village Board Tuesday at its May meeting at 22 Main. “But I wasn’t able to get into the driveway until he left.” It’s been an ongoing issue – buses parking too close to the fire station driveway even being repeatedly asked to move forward. And now the Village Board has stepped in, asking the county to relocate the bus stop to the 197 Main St. entrance of the county office building. “This was addressed in 2010 and 2011,” said Trustee Cindy Falk. “We would ask buses to pull forward, and within weeks, they’d be parking on the apron again.” But the relocation, some feared, would cause more trouble. A letter from the Schlather & Birch law firm, located at 192, read, “We would call your attention to the extreme congestion on a daily basis, especially when court is in session,” and suggested that a bus stop be relocated to Railroad Avenue. “A bus stop between the Agway building and the railroad would work quite well,” they wrote. Paul Patterson, OPT transportation director, was at the meeting, and suggested that, instead, a cement pad be poured a few feet up so that the buses would park closer to the corner of Leatherstocking Avenue, but the shelter could remain in place. “People are familiar with that stop,” he said. “Putting it on Railroad Avenue or upper Main is away from where people congregate.” “Some people might have trouble walking up that hill to the County Building,” said Paul Clark. “The bus and fire companies should be able to solve this.” Trustee Jim Dean also had a suggestion. “The bus stop is in the wrong place,” he said. “Move it to the other corner of Leatherstocking. A straight line is the best line.” But Tallman brought up concerns that buses there might cause problems with people turning right off Leatherstocking, pulling out of the Doubleday Lot or off Fowler Lane. “You’re taking your life in your hands at that intersection,” he said. The board decided ultimately to table the vote and take it back to the county to continue looking for a solution. “We’re trying to encourage public transportation,” said Dean. “This stop is the face of public transportation in Cooperstown.”
Cooperstown Board Debates
Whether To Move Bus Stop
By LIBBY CUDMORE • for www.allotsego.com
COOPERSTOWN – The law says that there is to be no standing or parking within 20 feet of a fire station driveway.
But when Fire chief Jim Tallman tried to pull the aerial truck into the station on Chestnut Street after a call, he saw an OPT driver smoking a cigarette, waiting for his passengers.
“He saw me,” Tallman told the Village Board Tuesday at its May meeting at 22 Main. “But I wasn’t able to get into the driveway until he left.”
It’s been an ongoing issue – buses parking too close to the fire station driveway even being repeatedly asked to move forward.
And now the Village Board has stepped in, asking the county to relocate the bus stop to the 197 Main St. entrance of the county office building.
Bassett Reaches Out: Jane Forbes Clark,
Dr. Brown Calm Upset Neighbors
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal
Edition of Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014
Bassett has reached out to its neighbors, and the neighbors – disgruntled as recently as Sept. 29 at a Village Hall hearing on simplifying the hospital’s planning challenges by placing it in a single “institutional zone” – seem satisfied for now.
“They were in full listening mode,” neighbor Bill Waller, Beaver Street, said after he and 60-some Bassett neighbors spent an hour Tuesday, Nov. 11, airing their concerns to Jane Forbes Clark, who chairs the hospital trustees’ facilities committee, hospital CEO/President Vance Brown and Jonathan Flyte, vice president/facilities planning.
“They said, ‘We don’t have a plan. We’re working on it. That’s why we’re here today’,” said Frank Capozza, who lives on the corner of Beaver and Pioneer. “I thought it was a very good meeting,” he added.
The impression the neighbors received was what the hospital trio intended, said Dr. Brown in an interview. The idea of the meeting, held in the hospital’s Clark Auditorium, was “to listen and not to speak.” He added, “This came from our need to be better day-to-day neighbors.”
He divided the inputs under four themes:
• One, “employee impact on neighbors.” For instance, despite pavilions for smokers set up around campus, employees who leave the non-smoking buildings during breaks are still problematic for neighbors.
• Two, parking. “Everything in Cooperstown is about parking,” Brown quoted one attendee as saying. Neighbors were concerned about people parking all day long in side streets where that’s allowed; that’s particularly in winters, when snowplows plow in parked cars.
• Three, bus routes. It was suggested that as Bassett’s current gasoline-powered buses wear out, they are replaced with quieter propane-powered buses. Another suggestion was reducing the number of bus stops and the number of times buses complete the loop between the hospital and parking lots. And perhaps reducing and centralizing bus stops.
• Four, properties acquired by Bassett on streets surrounding the hospital. “Who’s there and for what purpose?” the neighbors asked.
At the meeting, Brown was able to announce what may be a partial solution to complaints about clanking snowplows clearing Bassett lots in the wee hours after storms: Some of the plows have been fitted with hydraulic drops, so they can be more silently lowered than the gravity-drop ones.
After the inputs are digested, further meetings will be held with neighbors to ensure concerns are being met to the degree they might, said Brown.
As for neighbors attending, both Waller and Capozza repeated a remark by Miss Clark that, while Bassett doesn’t necessarily object to the “institutional zone” that prompted the Sept. 29 outpouring, the hospital did not seek the zone.
Capozza said it was suggested the hospital make more use of “the back door” – Route 33, outer Susquehanna, Brooklyn and Estli avenues – to access the hospital, rather than Route 28 to Beaver, the major access now.
Also clarified was a concern that the hospital is planning a “dormitory” for the 20 medical students enrolled in the Bassett-Columbia Presbyterian medical school. It’s not happening, the gathering was told.
In the interview, Brown, who has been at the helm since July 1, said Bassett did its last master plan seven years ago, but that it was largely set aside because of its impact on the neighborhood.