News of Otsego County

Bassett Healthcare

Protesters against vaccine mandate march to A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta
Anti-vaccine protesters leaving Neahwa Park in Oneonta on Friday, Sept. 17. (Kevin Limit/AllOtsego).

Protesters against vaccine mandate march to A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

ONEONTA — Hundreds of protesters, along with Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, marched to A.O. Fox Hospital and through Main Street Friday, Sept. 17, to protest the vaccine mandate put in place for healthcare workers.

The protesters chanted slogans such as “stop the mandate” as they walked through downtown Oneonta towards the hospital. There were signs that said “unmask our children” and “protect our liberties.”

The vaccine mandate from Bassett Healthcare was in response to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mandate that all healthcare workers should be vaccinated.

Prior to the march, the protesters rallied at Damaschke Field.

“I’m here to support the medical professionals and support their right to not have an injection they’re not confident,” Salka told “Last year they were heroes, this year they’re zeroes.”

Bassett Healthcare has Sept. 27 deadline for employees to be vaccinated

Bassett Healthcare has Sept. 27,
deadline for employees to be vaccinated

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

COOPERSTOWN — In response to the state government mandating vaccinations for all healthcare workers, Bassett Healthcare has given its employees a deadline of Monday, Sept. 27, in order to have the first dose of the vaccine.

The mandate does not offer room for religious exemption but it does allow medical exemptions.

An internal email, penned by Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, CEO of Bassett Healthcare, said if employees are not vaccinated by Sept. 27, “you will no longer meet the regulatory requirements to be employed by Bassett Healthcare Network.”

Healthcare workers must now get COVID vaccine

Healthcare workers must now get COVID vaccine

Staff Report • Special to

All healthcare workers in New York State will now be required to get the COVID vaccine with the first dose being received no later than Monday, Sept. 27.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this on Tuesday, Aug. 17, and it applies to hospital workers as well as long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

There will be limited exceptions for either religious or medical reasons.

Dr. Tommy Ibrahim at Bassett Healthcare stressed in an internal email the importance of getting the vaccine to hospital staff.

COVID-19 vaccines expanded to out-patient locations

COVID-19 vaccines
expanded to
out-patient locations

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Bassett Healthcare announced in a press release Thursday, July 1, that vaccines are available in out-patient locations, such as primary care and pediatric clinics.

Patients 12 and up are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine at these locations; 18 and up can receive Moderna or Johnson and Johnson as well as Pfizer.

“Obtaining vaccines in our clinics is a wonderful stride towards improving access for all our patients to this life-saving vaccine,” Gretchen Hodgdon, MD, Bassett Healthcare Network’s division chief of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, said in a press release. “This greatly broadens our connections to patients and families who may be eager to obtain the vaccines in the comfort of their own doctor’s offices. My hope is that every eligible patient will turn to their trusted providers for support, education, and reassurance. We are all in this together.”

Go to for more information on clinic locations.

Bassett Healthcare to partner with museum studies program for inclusive artwork

Bassett Healthcare to partner with museum studies program for inclusive artwork

STAFF REPORT • Special to

SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program, which focuses on museum studies, has partnered with Bassett Healthcare to create inclusive artwork which represents greater diversity for patient spaces.

Professor Cynthia Falk’s “Gender-Taste-Space” class selected art which depicts different racial, gender, ethnic and religious persuasions.

The Gender Wellness Center team selected pieces to be purchased for display.

“The principles of diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to good health care,” Dr. Carolyn Wolf-Gould, of the Gender Wellness Center, said in a press release. “Now we have images on our walls that reflect racial and ethnic diversity. If you’re a person of color, or if you use a wheelchair, or if you’re in the LGBTQ community, you’re going to see images that celebrate these groups of people. This artwork is one way to express our aspiration to be inclusive and to make everyone feel welcome.”

The Gender Wellness Center provides support for transgender specific issues such as mental health, education, legal advocacy, surgical procedures and other services.

Bassett Healthcare to collaborate with healthcare company Optum on technology

Bassett Healthcare to collaborate with healthcare company Optum on technology

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to

Bassett Healthcare announced Tuesday, May 25 that they will be collaborating with Optum, a healthcare innovation company, in order to streamline health services through the use of technology, making providing care cheaper and more efficient.

About 500 Bassett employees will be given the option of transitioning to work with Optum.

Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, President and CEO of Bassett, said the move would “really improve our business practices” allowing Bassett to “focus on a patient centered environment.”

“We will capitalize on the efficiency to allow us to reinvest in our communities,” Ibrahim said, which would allow the company to make “better value and affordable care for our patients.”

This move would “allow us to remain as a community government independent health company,” Ibrahim said.

Mike Valli, executive Vice President of Optum, praised Ibrahim for partnering with the company, and said that the company would be bringing innovations and technologies to Bassett and that there would ultimately be a financial benefit to the move.

“A lot of that comes from bringing the technology on our own without having Bassett go to the market,” Valli said.

According to a press release, Optum would provide services such as “revenue cycle management, an extensive set of advanced data and analytic capabilities, and information technology (IT) to advance quality care and the patient experience.”

Breaking: Bassett Healthcare announces shake up in top positions

Breaking: Bassett Healthcare announces shake up in top positions

STAFF REPORT • Special to

Bassett Healthcare announced Friday, May 14, that several people in high levels of leadership in the company were departing.

Ronette Wiley, vice president of operations and chief quality and experience officer, along with Donna Anderson, chief nursing officer and vice president of nursing, would be leaving their positions.

“We are appreciative of their contributions and many years service to our health system and wish them well in their future endeavors,” Dr. Tommy Ibrahim announced.

Visitors Allowed To Visit Patients


Visitors Allowed

To Visit Patients

COOPERSTOWN – Beginning today, Bassett Healthcare Network is resuming partial visitation for inpatients at its hospitals: Bassett in Cooperstown, Fox in Oneonta, Cobleskill Regional, Little Falls and O’Connor in Delhi.

Visitation hours are limited to 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. weekdays. On weekends, hours will be 1-5 p.m.  One visitor at a time will be allowed, with a maximum of two patients a day — four hours total per patient.

Seward To Join Bassett Network In Liaison Role


Seward To Join

Bassett Network

In Liaison Role

Jim Seward

COOPERSTOWN – Retired state senator Jim Seward, R-Milford, has agreed to join Bassett Healthcare Network in an advisory capacity as a strategic affairs liaison, Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim announced this morning.

“The former senator has been a public servant of our area for decades and has an intimate knowledge of the communities served by Bassett,” Ibrahim said in an email to the Network community.

Bassett Schedules Vaccination Clinic Saturday At Clark


Bassett Schedules

Vaccination Clinic

Saturday At Clark

In a noontime press briefing convened by Bassett President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim, top, the network’s pharmacy director, Kelly Rudd, left, announced Bassett Healthcare Network will provide vaccinations to the public at its first public clinic 8 a.m.-1 p.m. this Saturday at the Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown.  Register later this afternoon by clicking here.  “Given the limited supply of vaccine, we know appointments will for the community clinic will fill up immediately,” Rudd said.  “Individuals must register through the state’s COVID-19 vaccination portal, using the ‘Am I eligible’ app, and we anticipate that a link to the state’s portal will be live later this afternoon.”  (Jim Kevlin/

Fox Ramping Up Vaccination Rate, Spokesman Says

Fox Ramping Up

Vaccination Rate,

Spokesman Says

More Than 50 Percent Of Staff

Inoculated, Hospital Reports


ONEONTA – After being called out by Governor Cuomo on Monday, Fox Hospital and the Tri-Town Campus in Sidney have ramped up their rate of vaccinations.

On Monday, Cuomo alleged that the hospital had only used 18 percent of their COVID-19 vaccine allotment. Bassett spokeswoman Karen Huxtable-Hooker said the total was actually 30 percent at the time of the press conference.

Fox spokesman Gabrielle Argo updated these figures, reporting that 50 percent of the Fox staff has been vaccinated and 100 percent of the Tri-Town Campus staff had been vaccinated as of 2 p.m. today.

28 COVID Cases Reported Saturday, Sunday

28 COVID-19 Cases

Surface On Weekend

CDC image of coronavurus

COOPERSTOWN – COVID-19 numbers continue to climb in the county, with 28 cases reported over the weekend, according to Heidi Bond, Otsego County Public Health Director.

11 cases were reported Saturday, Nov. 21 and 17 were reported today, Bond noted in her daily press release. According to the NY Forward Dashboard, Otsego County currently has a 1.1 percent average positivity rate, with 600 people tested yesterday.

EDITORIAL: Turmoil At Bassett, But It’s Good Turmoil. And It Can’t Be Avoided


Turmoil At Bassett,

But It’s Good Turmoil.

And It Can’t Be Avoided

Intriguing news is filtering out of the vicinity of One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, as Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, new Bassett Healthcare Network president/CEO, takes hold.

Some people are leaving, voluntarily or not, which is common in this kind of transition. But there’s a particularly intriguing addition: A tech guy, Michael Thompson, VP/systems improvement, recruited from Integris, Ibrahim’s former employer, based in Oklahoma City.

Last week’s announcement described his job this way: “Michael will partner with administrative and medical staff leadership to develop and implement a strategic-performance improvement plan for all hospitals across the Bassett Healthcare Network.”

That dovetails with Dr. Ibrahim’s vision, as he described it in an introductory interview on his arrival in mid-July.

Integris’ nine hospitals were silos, vertically organized – president, vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, department heads, etc. His idea was to organize hospitals by specialties – radiologists, cardiac specialists, dermatologists, etc. – horizontally.

Aggregating the power of expertise: You can see how effective that would be, at Integris, sure, but also at Bassett, in concentrating the expertise scattered between Cooperstown, Fox in Oneonta, O’Connor in Delhi, Cobleskill Regional Hospital, Little Falls, and the Bassett Network’s dozens of other facilities.

At Integris, Ibrahim told the Daily Oklahoman a year ago, “Our strategy to becoming one of the nation’s five top medical systems starts with building an infrastructure around data analytics. Our central theme remains quality and patient safety, around which we track many matrices.”

Data, matrices (measurements), quality. It’s going to be exacting, intense. At Integris, “teams systemwide meet every morning to gather, quickly identify and rectify issues, and rally around providing the best patient care possible,” the Oklahoman reported.

To do this, Ibrahim needs people around him to effectively implement; in other words, to get the
right things done right, and quickly.

To do this, he needs his own team.

It seems, that’s where we’re heading.

Departures so far include Dr. Steven Heneghan, the Network’s chief medical officer, announced a month ago. Two or three other key players – unannounced, but you’d know them – as of last Friday. It’s being said top Bassett executives who want to remain in their positions must reapply, but that couldn’t be immediately confirmed this week.

Can it be helped? Probably not, nor should it be.

The former Oneonta mayor, Dick Miller, served on the Fox board, and used to say it’s generally accepted that, for a modern hospital system to succeed, it has to draw on a population of 1.2 million; Bassett’s eight counties add up to 600,000.

It should go without saying, but can’t be said enough: For the good of Otsego County, in particular, it’s important that Bassett – a font of jobs and brainpower, a facility essential to quality economic development – orbits around Cooperstown, rather than Utica, Albany, Binghamton or, heavens, Sayre. Pa. That means adding to and further developing exceptional expertise already in house –
obviously, there’s never enough of that – attracting more patients, and continuing to expand as
opportunities arise.

In his departing interview, Dr. Bill Streck, Ibrahim’s predecessor, who retired in 2014 but was brought back in 2018 when his successor resigned, was asked what went wrong in the interim.

Nothing specific, Streck said, just a loss of “institutional momen-tum.” That, he continued, can be a fatal sin.

Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, 39, has brains, a successful track record, youthful energy, and a vision of where we should go. He sold that vision to the Bassett board, which was looking for a future. He needs

HIS team to take him there, and us. That’s going to take some short-term pain. And that’s OK.

Final quote from the Oklahoman:  “I think Integris” – substitute Bassett – “can absolutely compete with the likes of the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic.”

Without ambitious goals, we aren’t going to get there, or anywhere. Ibrahim needs his team’s support, and everyone’s, to get there.

Fox Hospital President Now Bassett COO

Fox Hospital President

Now Bassett COO Too

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Jeff Joyner

ONEONTA – As Fox Hospital president, Jeff Joyner, new COO of the Bassett Healthcare Network, brings people together.

“Jeff knows that things get done when you work with other people,” said Laurie Zimniewicz, president of the Fox Hospital Board. “And he realized that Fox Hospital, standing alone, wasn’t going to be effective unless the network was effective.”

Joyner, who succeeded longtime Fox Hospital President John Remillard, who retired in 2015, has been promoted to network senior vice president/chief operating officer, a key player in new Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim’s executive team.

The other three key appointments are:

• Michael Thompson, vice president/systems improvement. Most recently, he was vice president/provider service for Integris, Oklahoma City, where Ibrahim was executive vice president and chief physician executive before his appointment here May 20.

• Lisa Betrus, as senior vice president/chief strategy and transformation officer. Since 1998, she has been CEO/administrator of Valley Health & Valley Residential Services, Herkimer, taking on the extra role of network vice president for continuum of care in 2017.

• Cailin Purcell, as vice president/chief of staff. With 10 years at Bassett, she was most recently Department of Surgery senior director, overseeing leadership of Women’s Health, Anesthesia and Perioperative Services.

Joyner came St. Joseph’s Healthcare in New Jersey, where he was system vice president of operations. In 2009-13, he was vice president of professional services at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D..C, part of Johns Hopkins. In 2003-09, he was vice president of patient support services at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md.

In 1993-97, he served two terms in the Main State Legislature. He holds a bachelors in business administration from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master of health administration from the University of New Hampshire.

As Fox president, Joyner has been reducing redundancy of services. “Two years ago, we had FoxNow at FoxCare and Bassett Convenient Care, three miles down the road from each other,” he said. “They were two competing practices, so we consolidated them, and now we have a much better product for the community.”

In fall 2018, Fox was awarded an “A” from The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Grade, placing the organization among the top facilities nationwide for patient safety excellence.

He continued his outreach, and in 2018, the network acquired Tri-Town in Sidney.

“By continuing to create more efficiency with services in both the Oneonta and Sidney regions, Fox and the greater Bassett Healthcare Network are in a strong position to continue providing high-quality care in an ever-changing health care environment,” he said.

“He put two of the former board members on the Fox Board,” said Zimniewicz. “He brings people together who can make a difference.”

And those connections came in handy as the COVID-19 pandemic bore down on the county. “We have come together to deal with the pandemic head-on,” he said “With everything at SUNY, our colleagues in Cobleskill and Cooperstown reached out to ask what they could provide. We’re not an
island, we’re part of a team.”

And he didn’t leave his staff out of the renovations. When the patient dining room
was expanded, the employee dining room was also modernized, complete with a “mini arcade” in the lounge to entertain staff on breaks.

“One of the greatest attributes of Fox Hospital is the people who work here,” he said. “I’ve seen first-hand the care they provide, and I get letters telling me about what a good job
we’ve done.”

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