News of Otsego County

Bassett Hospital

Erna D. Richards, 97 May 6, 1924 – August 27, 2021

In Memoriam

Erna D. Richards, 97

May 6, 1924 – August 27, 2021

Erna D. Richards

COOPERSTOWN – Erna D. Richards, forever remembered for her love of her family and her Norwegian heritage, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family early Friday morning, August 27, 2021, at her daughter’s home in Roseboom. She was 97.

Born May 6, 1924, in Alversund, Norway, Erna Dagny Hovik was the youngest child of Hans Knutsen Hovik and Hanna Teodora Ekeland Hovik. At the age of four, she and her family immigrated to the United States and settled on Long Island. She grew up in Huntington, and always enjoyed telling stories of the fun times she had while growing up there.

She was first married to Thorbjorn “Toby” Haugland Bergene and they had four children: Theodore, Gregory, Steven, and Katrina. Following their divorce, Erna met and married Bruce J. Richards, a Cooperstown Native Son, and they enjoyed 25 years of marriage until his sudden passing on May 8, 1999.

Erna started her working life at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City, and then spent the remainder of her career in the food services department at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.

Always proud of her Norwegian heritage, she loved sharing stories of her native land. She was a spirited Viking woman who was known as mom, grandma and GG!

DILL: Why do we treat sick people so poorly?


Why do we treat sick people so poorly?

Recently, a friend and former colleague was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently hospitalized on Florida’s West Coast. Her initial surgical procedure was radical and she underwent many rounds of chemotherapy. She reached out to me by phone from her hospital bed two weeks ago to say she was anxious to obtain a second opinion regarding her condition and prognosis.

Her physician and “hospitalist” were repeatedly rude and abrupt, absolutely refusing to acknowledge her request for a review of her case and flatly disregarding her pleas to facilitate a “hospital-to- hospital” transfer to Moffitt’s Cancer Center.

Her siblings traveled to the Florida hospital from Massachusetts and Virginia, each of them witnessing the rude and hostile treatment their sister was receiving at the hands of somewhat arrogant professionals at the hospital. What on earth has become of compassionate care and empathy?

It seems we treat our pets — cats and dogs — with greater kindness and concern when they become ill or are near death. We need to promote legislation for “end-of-life choices” for men and women and their loved ones, rather than to leave people at the mercy of a healthcare system that appears ready to sacrifice the quality of one’s remaining days in favor of extending a person’s life and pain at any cost!

Maureen Dill

Rotary announces 2021 award winners

Rotary announces
2021 award winners

William Moody and Ellie Hotaling accepted their Rotary awards Tuesday, July 6, during a ceremony at The Otesaga Resort Hotel.

The Cooperstown Rotary Foundation announced the winners of two scholarships for 2021 graduates during a ceremony Tuesday, July 6, at The Otesaga Resort Hotel.

Cooperstown Central graduate Ellie Hotaling is the recipient of the Catherine Davis Black Scholarship.

William Moody, an Oneonta High School and BOCES graduate, is the recipient of the Michael Mayne scholarship.

Moody and Hotaling were acknowledged at their high schools’ commencement ceremonies and received the $1,200 scholarships at the Rotary Club’s luncheon.

The Catherine Davis Black Scholarship award was created in 2015 in memory of Catherine Black, who was a charter member and a founder of the local Rotary Club’s tax-deductible charity.

Black was the first female president of the Cooperstown Rotary Club and went on to be one of the first female district governors. Since Black had a special interest in early childhood education and music, the scholarship criteria stipulates the recipient should be planning to pursue a career in one of those areas, as well as having demonstrated the Rotary tenet of “Service Above Self” by volunteering and contributing to their community.

Charles W. (Chuck) Holcomb, 77: Worked at Oneonta Grocery Company, enjoyed tinkering

In Memoriam

Charles W. (Chuck) Holcomb, 77: Worked at
Oneonta Grocery Company, enjoyed tinkering

Charles W. (Chuck) Holcomb, 77, passed away on May 8, 2021 at Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown after a short illness.

Chuck was born the son of Charles Holcomb and the former Elsie Platt.

He retired from Oneonta Grocery Company and after worked a few years at Ames Department store in Oneonta.

Chuck married the former Doris Jubar of Oneonta and they recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary.

Chuck enjoyed tinkering on things outside, going on side-by-side rides and playing pitch. Most of all he enjoyed his sons and his grandchildren.

Much To Be Proud Of In Response To COVID-19

Much To Be Proud Of
In Response To COVID-19

(Jim Kevlin/

Despite the chilling toll – 3,483 COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths – Otsego County people, our neighbors, friends and family, have a lot to be proud of as we ended The Year of The Pandemic on Monday, March 15, we found in revisiting the last 52 editions of this newspaper.

Throughout, there was worry, dismay and grief in the face of the implacable and mysterious foe, but little panic. In reviewing the newspapers, there was, and is, much determination, focus and purpose among our neighbors and our community leaders.

At the county level, board Chairman David Bliss promptly issued an emergency declaration on Friday, March 15, 2020, that outlined many of the steps that have marked our lives since then. Going forward from there, the county board was tough and visionary in the face of disappearing sales- and bed-tax revenues.

The reps laid off 59 FTEs, no fun for anyone. Then – guided by county Treasurer Allen Ruffles – they assembled a plan based on historically low-interest loans and fast-tracking roadwork, which the state CHIPS program still reimburses, to ensure solvency. When President Biden’s $11 million stimulus allocation was announced in recent days, it was appreciated at 197 Main, but not essential.

On a parallel track, county Health Department rallied under Public Health Director Heidi Bond, doing the COVID testing and contact tracing that – along with masks and social distancing – have been central in controlling the disease to the extent we have.

She was already heralded as this newspaper’s 2020 Citizen of the Year, but not enough appreciation can be expressed to her team’s hard work and accomplishment.

From M*A*S*H to Bassett

From M*A*S*H to Bassett

Full Immersion In Afghan War Prepared New Trauma Director

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Dr. Joon K. Shim, an unlikely “woman from New Jersey flying in a helicopter,” poses with a crew during one of her deployments with the Army in Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Dr. Joon K. Shim)

It was Christmas Day.

“The Taliban likes to attack on holidays,” said Dr. Joon K. Shim, who arrived at Bassett Hospital Jan. 26 as a surgeon, as well as program director of the Columbia-Bassett Residency, training young doctors.

She heard “a huge ‘kaboom’” – a mortar attack. “I was on the floor with my face to the ground. I thought I would die that day,” said the physician, who was serving one of three deployments in Afghanistan.

But duty called in the form of an injured soldier, and she was soon back at the operating table.

“He held my hand and said, ‘Dr. Shim, I want to live’,” she remembered. Later, he had the opportunity to tell her, “Thank you for saving my life.”

She’s not the only Bassett physician to experience war. Dr. Shelby Cooper, a Navy lieutenant commander, was deployed to Afghanistan. So was the hospital’s president, Dr. Bill LeCates, who also serves as state surgeon for the New York State National Guard.

Still, on active duty for three deployments, in 2011, 2012 and 2013, Dr. Shim’s story, as she told it in a recent interview, is like an action thriller, beginning when – a recent Bryn Mawr, magna cum laude philosophy major – 9/11 happened.

Bassett Announces 2-Day Vaccine Clinic On Weekend At Clark

Bassett Announces

2-Day Vaccine Clinic

On Weekend At Clark

COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Hospital has just announced a two-day clinic this weekend to administer 1,200 doses of anti-COVID vaccines the county Health Department received for people over 65.

Vaccination clinics will be on Saturday, March 6, and Sunday, March 7, at the Clark Sports Center.

To make an appointment, click  here soon as possible, as slots fill up quickly.   Or call 1-833-697-4829

Thomas D. Parrotti, 72 May 12, 1948-Feb. 14, 2021


Thomas D. Parrotti, 72

May 12, 1948-Feb. 14, 2021

Thomas D. Parrotti

HAMDEN – Thomas Dominic Parrotti, 72, passed away following complications from COVID-19 at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.

He was born on May 12, 1948 in Binghamton, and was raised there by his mother Dorothy “Dottie” (Chervenka) and Dominic Parrotti. After high school Thomas studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City.

Thom worked in many professions over the years, including owning his own clothing store and interior design business. He worked for the former mayor of Binghamton, Juanita Crabb; together they brought in the Binghamton Mets Stadium.

Linda Winsor, 69; Native Daughter Worked At Bassett, CCS

IN MEMORIAM: Linda Winsor, 69;

Native Daughter Worked At Bassett, CCS

Linda Winsor

BURLINGTON – Linda Winsor, a Native Daughter of Cooperstown and former resident of the Town of Burlington, passed away Saturday night, Feb. 6, 2021, at her home in Bloomfield, near Canandaigua, following a valiant battle with cancer. She was 69.

Born March 14, 1951, at Bassett Hospital, Linda was a daughter of Mason E. and Wanda J. (Colburn) Tiffany. Raised in the Burlington area, she attended Edmeston Central School.

2 Christmas Babies Welcomed At Bassett

2 Christmas Babies

Welcomed At Bassett

Arielle Ross of Sidney was the first of two babies born today at Bassett Hospital.

COOPERSTOWN – Two Christmas babies arrived at Bassett Hospital today.

The first was Arielle Ross, at 5:56 a.m., to Krista Matzel and Robert Ross of Sidney.  It was mom’s due date, and she was right on time.

Arielle is 19 inches long and 6 pounds, 5 ounces. She has a 7-year-old brother, Robert.

“What a Christmas gift,” said dad Robert. “Baby and mom are doing great.”

The second baby was born later in the day, and mom and baby were asleep at this hour.


STERNBERG: Vaccines, Part II: They Arrive

Vaccines, Part II: They Arrive

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

I wish I had the time, stamina, and column inches to write an article daily. That’s how fast the news is coming.

Since last week, Pfizer has begun distribution and vaccinations around the nation, the Moderna vaccine has been approved and it will start distribution by the time you read this, with inoculations going into arms probably by Thursday the 24th.

The 350 Tier One healthcare workers from Bassett Healthcare will have been inoculated, though they all had to travel to either Utica or Elmira to receive the network’s allotted doses, according to a Bassett spokesman. They will get the Pfizer vaccine.

According to the Governor, we can expect more doses in the weeks ahead.

All I want for Christmas is my two vaccines.

There have been some surprises with the roll out. It seems some five dose vials of the Pfizer vaccine actually contain six doses. On the other hand, the logistics have not gone quite as well as we were told to expect. I guess that’s not a surprise.

In the United States, the priority for the order of who gets the vaccine has been announced.

Tier One-A is front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff.

Tier One-B is essential workers.

Tier One-C is high risk individuals which includes those over 60 or 65 depending on their state of residence and those with other risk factors.

After that I am not sure but it seems to be everyone else lumped together. It is not clear when and if minors will get the vaccinations, since they haven’t been tested in those under 16.

There has been some controversy over the 1-B group, not so much if essential workers should get it next, but who is an essential worker.

Overall, there are probably more than 20-30 million people in this category in the United States: police, fire, EMS, teachers, other healthcare workers who interact with the general public, grocery store workers, food processing plant workers, certain other government employees, and many others.

As someone with eight risk factors and counting, I am willing to wait my turn for most of these, but unfortunately there will be some who get moved up the list but probably don’t deserve it.

For example, an attorney friend of mine in New Jersey says they are classified as essential workers.

Shakespeare would definitely not agree. Neither do I. Some yes, but all of them? Corporate attorneys who haven’t been in a courtroom in decades and only represent clients who can pay them more than $500/hour?

There are other vaccines coming out soon. Janssen/ Johnson & Johnson, AstroZenica/Oxford, and Novavax are among those in stage three testing in the USA that may be able to get FDA approval.

China and Russia have both approved their own vaccines and are inoculating people at home and overseas.

The entire United Arab Emirates’ Tour de France winning cycling team has been inoculated with the Chinese Sinopharma vaccine.

Hopefully the vaccines from outside North America and Europe will also generate honest, reproducible data. We need every dose that can be produced that works. There are seven billion people in the world and frankly most of them would benefit by being vaccinated.

In the meantime, we can decrease deaths and slow down progression of the disease with the same simple methods that I have been advocating for nine months. (Yes, it’s that long.) Wear a mask, socially distance, don’t get lackadaisical just because you know some else well.

My god-daughter and her husband both contracted it from their 11-month-old. All are well. We just lost an Otsego citizen who caught COVID from a group home worker who contracted it at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Small group, known people. But someone died because of it. We are so close, people: Stay the course (and any other cliché you can think of).

Merry Christmas and I wish everyone a New Year that at least begins to approach sanity.




Dr. Anush Patel, Bassett Hospital’s chief of medical oncology and radiology, expressed relief on receiving the first of his two Pfizer vaccinations.

“This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Patel was one of 350 Tier One Bassett employees who received the Pfizer vaccine last Saturday through Monday at Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Elmira, and Faxton-St. Luke’s Campus, Utica.

“People were overwhelmingly excited to receive the vaccine,” said Karen Huxtable-Hooker, Bassett Healthcare Network spokesman. “It’s energizing health care workers; for them it means the beginning of the end.”

Tier One healthcare employees are staff members in clinical and nonclinical patient-care areas considered to be of high exposure, according to the state, including emergency room and Intensive Care Unit employees.

Some 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were shipped across New York State this week and received by Bassett’s Tier One employees.

Going forward, however, Bassett has opted for the Moderna vaccine, which has a similar efficacy against COVID-19, but doesn’t require the extreme refrigeration the Pfizer one does.

Dr. Anush Patel, Cooperstown, Bassett Hospital chief of medical oncology, receives his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Faxton-St. Luke’s in Utica. “This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. (Bassett Hospital Photo)

“Because it doesn’t need the ultra-cold storage like the Pfizer vaccine, (Moderna) is easier to store and transport throughout our region, so we can reach more patients in our service area,” said Kelly Rudd, PharmD, the Bassett Network’s pharmacy director.

Although Arnot Ogden and Faxton-St. Luke’s are not in the Bassett Network, they are medical campuses designated by New York State as regional hubs for initial vaccine administration.

“We have been able to help them and they were able to help us; this really takes everybody working together,” Huxtable-Hooker said.

“We are proud to be part of the state’s efforts to vaccinate front-line healthcare workers as we move through the vaccination distribution phases outlined by the CDC,” said Jonathan Lawrence, Arnot president/CEO. “We look forward to working with hospitals in our region to achieve the goal of vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, in our efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

According to Huxtable-Hooker, all five Bassett Network hospitals have received their first allotment of the Moderna vaccine and vaccinations of Tier One staff will begin this week.

“Schedules for inoculating staff are in development,” she added.

Those that have already received the Pfizer vaccine at one of the two locations in Utica or Elmira will be returning to those sites to receive the booster for the vaccine after three weeks.

Those that will receive the Moderna vaccine will return for their booster after 28 days.

And with 350 staff members on their way to completing the vaccination process against COVID-19, Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director, says she hopes this will speed up the timeline for getting the vaccine to the public.

“Hopefully the vaccine will begin to come at a fast pace,” she said. “We can vaccinate our front-line healthcare workers, then increase out to the next tier and vaccinate other essential workers.”

Bassett’s attending physician of infectious diseases, Dr. Charles Hyman, suggested last week that the public will likely not have access to the vaccine until the end of April, but adds that planning as to how best to distribute it is already underway.

6 PIONEERS GET SHOTS It’s Beginning Of End Of Virus In Otsego County


It’s Beginning

Of End Of Virus

In Otsego County

Network Chief of Pharmacy Kelly Rudd briefs the six volunteers who received the Moderna vaccine this morning. From left, they are Dr. Lewis Brinton, Keith Velasco, Eddie Cook, Suzanne Evans, Liz Burns and Dr. Travis Hodgdon. In the background is Allen Light, who administered one of the first shots. (Jim Kevlin/


COOPERSTOWN – Six Tier One Bassett employees elected to receive the Moderna vaccine in Bassett Hospital’s Clark Auditorium this morning.

Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim gives an attaboy to RN Liz Burns and the five other pioneers. At left is Dr. Suzanne Evans and, behind them, Dr. Travis Hodgdon.

Housekeeper Eddie Cook, among the six, was “excited and a little nervous” about receiving the vaccine.  “If it helps stop the spread and will keep his wife safe,” he said, “I am happy to do it – I will be glad when the vaccine is widely available.”

The other five were: Dr. Lewis Brinton IV, Fly Creek, an emergency-room doctor at Little Falls Hospital;  Keith Velasco, Milford, nursing associate; Suzanne Evans, Cooperstown, surgical resident; Liz Burns, Oneonta, R.N., and Dr. Travis Hodgdon, Cooperstown, critical-care physician at Bassett.

The vaccines were administered by Kelly Rudd, Bassett Health Network’s chief of pharmacy, as well as Michele Taurisano, Utica, and Allen Light, Westmoreland.

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