Bassett at 100 by Dr. Tommy Ibrahim
How Bassett Will Survive and Thrive
Dear Friends, Neighbors and Colleagues,
As you are almost certainly aware, these are difficult times for health systems nationwide. For over a decade there has been a growing shortage of medical caregivers. Due to burnout following the COVID-19 pandemic, even more people have left clinical professions, and this is now a dire situation. The shortage is national and is especially pronounced in rural areas. The need for nurses, in particular, has driven hospitals like ours to rely on traveling nurse agencies to ensure there are enough staff members to cover even a minimal number of beds. Agency nurses are excellent (and we are beyond thankful to have them on our caregiving teams), but they are expensive. Relying on them is not sustainable long-term.
Bassett Healthcare Network is feeling this pressure: the needs of our patients; the need for more doctors, nurses, and techs; the strains on our budget. Most rural health systems are feeling the same pressures, and some are shrinking, cutting, or closing as a result. The question I hear frequently from many of you is: So, will Bassett survive?
I hope you’re not surprised to hear me answer with a resounding yes! I also hope you don’t dismiss that as pie-in-the-sky optimism.
One of our biggest advantages over many other health systems is that we were already preparing for change before this crisis hit. Many of the difficult changes we implemented over the past few years were intentional and necessary to build resiliency to respond to large structural and environmental shifts. For years, Bassett has been mapping a course to become a fully integrated and unified network. Each of our hospitals has been invaluable to their communities since their founding. We know that when they work together, connected by shared resources, caregivers, expertise, and technology, the effect is a multiplied benefit for all.
Much of the work we have done toward full integration—things like centralized administrative roles, coordinated benefits and a single payroll system, unified information technology services, consistent job descriptions, and more—are naturally outside the public view. However, the results are not. These steps are giving our caregivers greater mobility and access to opportunities within the network. That makes us a better employer, retaining our talented caregivers while attracting more to our area.
We have also been looking at how we can meet the unique needs of each patient and provide the best possible care. Patients with critical or serious conditions or needing complex surgeries may require access to the tools and specialists at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, for example. Meanwhile, patients with different care needs might benefit more from the skills of practitioners and the private rooms available at A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta. Still others who need short-term rehabilitation may require care plans that are best accommodated by one of our programs at Cobleskill Regional Hospital, Little Falls Hospital, or O’Connor Hospital in Delhi. A truly integrated health system like Bassett means it should be easy to get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
Importantly, wherever you receive care in the Bassett network, your care team will always have your records, medication lists, test results, and more at their fingertips, thanks to our shared electronic medical records—whether you’re in the hospital or having an appointment. Likewise, your primary care practitioner can continue to oversee your care plans no matter where you receive services. You can even get consultations from expert specialists anywhere in the network or beyond without traveling long distances, thanks to telemedicine. Learn more about our digital care options by visiting www.bassett.org/GetCareNow.
These enhancements are even more crucial during this difficult, post-COVID period. Over the past few months, the number of beds available around our network has increased—and the gains have been especially significant at Bassett Medical Center. Thanks to our integrated system, increased capacity in one of our hospitals can ease the burden everywhere.
I know that, in the long run, this period of time will be seen as a watershed moment for Bassett—a time when we embraced disruption and fostered growth. We are making changes that will benefit our patients and communities greatly in the long run. Bassett Healthcare Network has provided excellent care and services to people for more than 100 years—and because of our work to strengthen and expand our foundation today, I’m eager to see our growth over the next century.
Dr. Tommy Ibrahim
President & CEO
Bassett Healthcare Network