Bassett CEO’s Aim: Knit Network Together

Bassett CEO’s Aim:

Knit Network Together

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – In his three months as CEO/president, Dr. Tommy Ibrahim is increasingly impressed by Bassett Healthcare Network’s local significance.

“In our service area, we’re it,” he said in an interview Monday, Sept. 28. “We have an obligation to serve the people in it.”

In the past two months, he has announced 10 members of his Executive Leadership Team, including Fox Hospital President Jeff Joyner as chief operation officer, the lead implementer.

And Ibrahim further sees the possibilities of the concept he implemented at Integris, the nine-hospital Oklahoma network where he was executive vice president and chief physician executive, to manage the Bassett network as a single network, to “integrate” operations.

“If we were to standardize,” he said, “we would free up a ton of opportunities and value.”

Take HR.

The five Bassett Network hospitals have human resources departments with different policies, different pay scales, different procedures and benefit plans.

So the hospitals find themselves competing against each other, with people leaving one Bassett facility to take a job at another.

Reorganizing HR to achieve consistency across the network “is the first step to creating great relationships with employees,” he said, which results in “the ability to retain great staff.”

The HR idea is one example of his strategy of reorganizing the Bassett Network, from a collection of hierarchical institutions – president, vice president, department heads – to a horizontal one.
In a horizontal one, people will be organized by specialty – with uniformity across the net-work, not just in HR but in medical specialties, with Bassett’s best becoming available across all facilities, from O’Connor Hospital in Delhi to Bassett Health Center Oneida, 67 miles apart.

Uniformity, standardization, “you can extrapolate that to multiple functions,” he said.

In announcing Joyner’s promotion Sept. 2, Ibrahim also announced the recruitment of his
technology chief at Integris, Michael Thompson, as vice president/systems improvement.

Thompson’s task is to create “a uniform cadence by which we manage our organization, an accountability structure to help create a level of transparency in measurements.”

With that information in hand, the leadership team’s role is to act on the relative strengths revealed in those findings, “to be as good as we can be.”

While completing the Leadership Team, work has begun on a five-year strategic plan to make Bassett “the best place to work and practice,” Ibrahim said. The plan will also look at making the network “consumer- and patient-centered.”

In addition to key administrators, the Leadership Team includes such physicians as Dr. Nicholas Hellenthal, the chief of surgery, who has been given the additional responsibility of chief medical officer at Bassett Hospital.

And Dr. Henry Weil as chief academic officer, looking for innovations in the the Columbia-Bassett Medical School program, which brings medical students to Cooperstown as part of their training.

Given Bassett’s widespread footprint, the new CEO’s team will also be looking at access to service, in particular obstacles to access.

“Our capabilities outweigh what we’re doing today,” he said, particularly given Bassett’s doctors, whom he termed “incredible clinicians.”

“We can be a best player,” he said, “and an international player.”

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