News of Otsego County

Bassett Healthcare

Averill Road Activity

Averill Road Activity

COOPERSTOWN—Not much has happened at the Village of Cooperstown Averill Road site since April 6, when Madison County Supreme Court Justice Hon. Patrick J. O’Sullivan ruled the Templeton Foundation could proceed with geotechnical testing contingent upon New York State Department of Environmental Conservation compliance. Today, however, there were workers on-site chipping brush and branches, and hauling lumber from the property. Templeton’s proposed housing project, which has been the subject of two lawsuits to date, is intended for Bassett Healthcare employees. (Photos by Darla M. Youngs)

Coop Mayor Launching Welcome Initiative Tomorrow

Coop Mayor Launching Welcome Initiative Tomorrow

COOPERSTOWN—“Welcome Home Cooperstown,” a new initiative from Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, will kick off a series of monthly meet and greets on Tuesday, May 2  from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Village Hall at 22 Main Street. The goal is to welcome area newcomers, assist them in building connections to established residents and institutions, and encourage them to make Cooperstown their permanent home. Information about community events will be available and refreshments will be served. All members of the community are invited, including those new to the area as well as longtime residents who would like to meet and welcome others. In general, events will take place on the first Tuesday of each month—May 2, June 6, July 11, August 1, September 5, October 3, November 7 and December 5. Members of the “Welcome Home Cooperstown” committee include interested citizens and representatives from Bassett Healthcare, Cooperstown Central School, and the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Friends of the Village Library. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate in the work of building a stronger, more diverse, and welcoming community.

In Memoriam Joanne E. Wilms 1944-2023
In Memoriam

Joanne E. Wilms


MT. VISION—Joanne E. Wilms, 79, of Mt. Vision, died on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at home. She was a caring person who brought joy to many people through her flowers and kindness.

Joanne was born on March 25, 1944 in Oneonta, the daughter of Leslie and Mable (Joselyn) Frazier.

Joanne owned and operated Mt. Vision Garden Center for many years. She enjoyed flowers and spending time with her family.

Aldridge: Reminder To Bassett: ‘Do No Harm’
Letter from Ben Aldridge

Reminder To Bassett: ‘Do No Harm’

I’m a long-time area resident and, for the past two-plus years, a FoxCare Fitness member. FF is a unique, thriving presence in area healthcare and well-being.

“Do no harm” has been a foundational concept of healthcare for 2,500 years, and I’m confident it underlies Bassett’s mission. Closing or otherwise compromising FF will clearly do harm to hundreds of people—people who, like me, are not only more healthy owing to their membership but also have realized and actualized the agency we all have in maintaining our health. Shouldn’t that also be a foundational concept of healthcare?

Gallo: Will FoxCare Fitness Be a COVID Fatality?
Letter from Diane Gallo

Will FoxCare Fitness Be a COVID Fatality?

Several months ago, I began taking weekly strength-building sessions with a FoxCare Fitness trainer. He’s so professional and so good and I saw results quickly. I immediately understood how the fitness center benefits the Oneonta community.

Seniors meet there to exercise, keep fit, and also create the connections that combat loneliness and depression—serious medical and mental health issues. The one place you can have an exercise program and a cup of coffee with your workout buddies—really?

Life in the Time of COVID: FoxCare Fitness Closing Makes Sense
Life in the Time of COVID by Dr. Richard Sternberg

FoxCare Fitness Closing Makes Sense

First and foremost, let me say that the views in this column are mine and mine alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of this newspaper and information service.

Two weeks ago, I was away at the annual meeting of my medical specialty society. I suppose I was just trying to keep my hand in, even though I have been retired for eight years. Things have changed dramatically, and not just in surgical techniques. Medicine is a completely different business than 20 years ago when I had a solo independent practice.

Ibrahim Named ‘Rural Hospital CEO to Know’

Ibrahim Named
‘Rural Hospital CEO to Know’


Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, president and chief executive officer of Bassett Healthcare Network, has been named to a select list of esteemed healthcare industry professionals profiled in the “Becker’s Hospital Review” article titled “80 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know 2023.” As noted in the article: “Rural hospitals are critical to the success of the U.S. healthcare system to expand access to care in remote areas. CEOs at the helm of these important community institutions have many responsibilities to make sure their hospitals thrive.”

The Becker’s article continues: “The executives featured on this list have put their heart and soul into ensuring their communities have access to the best healthcare services possible. While rural hospitals across the country have faced closure in recent years, these leaders have developed a model for not only surviving but thriving.”

“The headwinds against us are serious,” said Dr. Ibrahim, who was also recently featured in “Lessons from the C-suite,” a podcast series hosted by Advisory Board President Eric Larsen that covers conversations with the most influential leaders in healthcare. “But I also believe that some of the very elements that have conventionally been regarded as disadvantageous to rural systems—like wide geographic areas, scarcity of hospital beds and physicians, geographic maldistribution of doctors, insufficient reimbursement, etc.—may, in fact, turn out to be advantages in a digital health age.”

“At the end of the day, the vision is for Bassett to be the model of care for rural health in the U.S.,” Dr. Ibrahim continued.

Dr. Ibrahim’s complete interview with the Advisory Board is available at

Kreischer: Support for FoxCare Fitness Is Strong
Letter from Jane Kreischer

Support for FoxCare Fitness Is Strong

I’m sure this will not be your first, nor your last, letter imploring you to reconsider your decision to close FoxCare Fitness Center. Please understand that this letter is written with the utmost respect for both the Bassett system and the healthcare it offers. Most of us have been in the community for more than 50 years, and we have used every doctor, every facility, and every service it offers.

What started out as an attempt to regain health and physical fitness turned quickly and unexpectedly into something else. The facility became a lifeline for many of our seniors: bringing social, emotional, physical and mental health together in one place. We gained fitness, we gained friends, we were in an environment that was clean, safe, quiet, and tailored to each individual fitness level. I cannot stress enough how this facility stood out from all the others; many of us had already had memberships to other fitness centers and watched them close, as well. This was such a breath of fresh air that you felt better already simply walking in to it… Walking in to people who knew your name, cared about you, with dedicated fitness coaches and staff, and classes everyone could join. There was and is no comparison anywhere that rivals that. We grew stronger, we grew more fit, we grew happier and healthier. How can an institution which has done so much good for the community be cast aside? You have only to watch one frail, struggling senior come through that door with walker, wheelchair, and cane to know FoxCare is their very lifeline and I am frankly afraid to see their health on a downward turn as soon as it closes its doors.

Tausta: FoxCare Fitness: All or Nothing?
Letter from Pamela Fitch Tausta

FoxCare Fitness: All or Nothing?

I’ve been a member of FoxCare Fitness for over 20 years. In spite of what is being said, it is the gym most comfortable for middle and old age people. I have been to other gyms and find users leave the equipment laying around, eat potato chips while resting on the equipment, and never wipe off the equipment after sweating on it. FoxCare Fitness users put back the equipment, wipe down machines after using and feel comfortable because supervision is available and trained to handle medical emergencies. I have seen the personnel go into action when a medical problem occurs. The people working there are all professionals and very pleasant. The facilities are clean and bright. Help with equipment is always freely given.

Guest Editorial: Keep FoxCare Fitness Open, Please
Guest Editorial by Anne Donovan

Keep FoxCare Fitness Open, Please

The closure of FoxCare Fitness gym is ill-advised and unwarranted. Denying about 750 members from looking after their own health by exercising and thereby practicing “preventative care” at the gym is irresponsible. Many of these members are following up after cardio and physio therapy. This gym has been open for 24 years and no is the time to encourage a way forward again.

COVID times have been tough on all the healthcare industry. Staff at medical facilities are already at capacity or beyond and are struggling to keep up with services and appointments within reasonable time frames. Surely, “preventative care” decreases the need for “patient care” and is helpful to all medical facilities?

The gym is such a vital part of our healthcare system in many ways. Apart from the obvious excellent healthcare the gym provides to so many people, there is also the issue of the sense of unity and community it brings. The camaraderie, the encouragement to exercise instilled by being part of a big gym group, and the social and business connections too are part of this. There is also the important aspect of accessibility with the easy, abundant parking available. Bassett medical staff at the FoxCare Center use this gym, too.

Where are 750 “dismissed” members supposed to go? There is no viable alternative to factoring in about 750 people. That is a huge number to deal with and reckless to dismiss that issue as being otherwise absorbed. It is infeasible.
People are feeling more encouraged since the COVID lock-down. Now is the time to revitalize the gym with advertising and promotion to increase membership. City, town, county and state officials should be engaged to find ideas to work with the gym on this issue and for any help they can give.

The gym must stay open. It is harmful to the health of so many that cannot be accommodated otherwise. It is a valuable part of our community and an absolute necessity to many. A way must be found to keep the gym open and encourage the “preventative care” health of all!

Anne Donovan is a resident of Oneonta.

Editor’s Note: According to a press release issued on March 10, A.O. Fox Hospital and Bassett Healthcare Network have begun conversations with the Oneonta Family YMCA to explore a potential collaboration at FoxCare Fitness.

“Since the recent announcement that our health system will no longer continue operating a membership-based public fitness facility at the FoxCare Center, I have heard from many of you about how important this facility is to you and the community,” said Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, president and chief executive officer of Bassett Healthcare Network. “I am excited about this opportunity to work together with the YMCA and explore the possibility of sustaining some level of public availability to the wonderful facility at FoxCare Fitness.”

At this time, the two organizations are in the early stages of exploring opportunities to align their respective strengths and expertise to collaborate on projects and initiatives, including at the FoxCare Fitness site, that benefit the community.

Bassett Healthcare Network Lifts Mask Requirements in Most Care Areas

Bassett Healthcare Network Lifts Mask Requirements in Most Care Areas


Bassett Healthcare Network announced today that masks are no longer required for patients, visitors or staff members across most areas of the health system.

“Bassett’s experts in infection control, incident command, employee health, and other areas have been diligently reviewing COVID-19 community transmission rates weekly,” said Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, president and chief executive officer of Bassett Healthcare Network. “They have been looking for a sustained trend of decreasing transmission rates. Bassett’s eight-county service area has now demonstrated declining community transmission rates for more than three weeks.”

Though mask restrictions are now lifted in most areas, an exception is in Bassett’s skilled nursing facilities at A.O. Fox Nursing Home, Valley Residential Services, and Valley Health Services, where masks will still be required for all employees and visitors. Long-term care facilities continue to follow stricter guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on community transmission rates to protect residents

Bassett Healthcare Network continues to follow CDC guidelines. In addition, building entrance screening procedures remain in place per New York State Department of Health regulations.

NYCAMH Facing Budget Difficulties

NYCAMH Facing Budget Difficulties

Seeks To Raise Awareness


On Tuesday, March 7, the New York Farm Bureau held a virtual press conference to voice its support for the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health and to highlight budget issues currently being faced by NYCAMH.

NYCAMH has a simple mission statement: “Enhancing agricultural and rural health by preventing and treating occupational injury and illness.”

Kirsch To Bassett: Please Keep FCF Open
Letter from Emma Kirsch

To Bassett: Please Keep FCF Open

I have been a member of FoxCare Fitness for many years. I am asking Bassett to reconsider the decision to close the facility for the following reasons:

• It is an extremely valuable asset to our senior community, who rely upon it for essential exercise and fitness training.

• All of the staff are personable, professional, and extremely helpful and kind to all.

Peterson: Health Needs Outweigh Profits
Letter from Suzanne Peterson

Health Needs Outweigh Profits

Through cardiac rehab, I came to FoxCare gym. The program changed my life after open heart surgery and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Graduating cardiac rehab on December 12, I immediately joined with my husband, paying for a year with lockers.

FoxCare gym is safe. Like so many members, I have illnesses that cause severe discomfort at regular gyms. FoxCare gym is routine, purpose, safe haven. I’m 53, with Celiac disease, chronic nerve pain, anxiety, depression, no balance from GBS, and a compromised immune system. FoxCare equipment is spaced apart, most wear masks, we clean machines. Nurses and physical therapists available for questions add to safety.

Walker: Sadness, Anger at FCF Closing
A Letter from Shirley Walker

Sadness, Anger at FCF Closing

Having heard the news of our fitness center closing, it brought a lot of emotion and wondering why, after all this time, it had to happen. I am in my 90s and I doubt I would have made it this far without my regular exercise classes at FoxCare Fitness. The employees and all my fellow members are a wonderful group and enjoy being at the FoxCare facility.

It makes me sad to think that I may no longer have any classes to attend and the uncertainty of finding another fitness center is too much of a burden for me at this point. After all is said and done, I’m hoping to hear that the classes will continue at the FoxCare Fitness Center.

Shirley Walker

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103