At Bassett, we are welcoming 2023 with a renewed energy and refreshed perspective. As we look at the year ahead, we are incredibly optimistic for the future of healthcare in our region. The new year will inevitably bring challenges—this is the case for all hospitals and health systems right now. But Bassett caregivers are adaptable and embrace each new opportunity with determination and enthusiasm. I’d like to share a few examples of the ways Bassett is advancing healthcare in our Central New York region and beyond.
I’m thrilled to announce that Bassett Medical Center has recently earned prestigious Primary Stroke Center Certification with The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Mark. This outstanding accreditation recognizes hospitals that meet superior standards to improve outcomes for stroke patients.
Dear Friends, Neighbors and Colleagues, The holiday season is an excellent time for reflection. We look back on our blessings at Thanksgiving, look forward with resolutions to the New Year, and spend quality time with those most important to us. I’d like to do a little reflecting on Bassett Healthcare Network in this month’s column—starting with our people.
Our caregivers are the greatest blessings of the year and our best hope for the future. Over the past year, Bassett Healthcare Network has received many distinguished acknowledgements for the amazing work of our caregivers in many disciplines. Here are some highlights:
Bassett Healthcare Network has been named to the Forbes list of Best-in-State Employers 2022. This award is presented by Forbes, renowned American business publication, and Statista, Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider.
“Bassett is delighted to be recognized on the Forbes list of Best-in-State Employers 2022,” said Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, President and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. “We are committed to becoming a national leader in rural health as well as a best place to work and practice. This award reaffirms the important efforts we take every day to prioritize our caregivers and practitioners — they are the heartbeat of our organization and the reason we provide outstanding care to our patients and communities.”
We (the Bassett family) were pleased to read your letter in last week’s Freeman’s Journal. We know you have many balls in the air and to grab and attack the call answering system is refreshing. The changes you outlined will ideally help improve the whole Bassett network.
I would also like to thank your “team” members who reached out to me and offered understanding and concern about this ongoing problem.
And a special thank you to your Director of Development of Impact Gifts, she was as helpful and friendly as always.
We are looking forward to the upcoming group forums. This call remains very important to us, please…
Bassett Healthcare Network and Dr. Tommy Ibrahim have mutually and enthusiastically agreed to an early contract extension on the occasion of the President and CEO’s highly productive two-year anniversary leading the pioneering Central New York medical, research, and education system.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity to continue our mission-critical efforts to lead Bassett into the future and to continue serving our community with superb health care services. This region is my home now and the place where my wife and I want to raise our children and receive our own care,” said Dr. Ibrahim. “Since coming to Bassett in the summer of 2020, I have been impressed by the quality of the caregivers and practitioners who expertly and caringly serve our patients, day-in and day-out,” reports Dr. Ibrahim. “There is so much left to accomplish here, but most importantly, I am determined to see our transformation through, to becoming the best employer in the region. Our 5,000 employees deserve no less,” Ibrahim continued.
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.”
‘OneBassett” is here, Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim announced Friday, Dec. 11, and it will lead Bassett Healthcare Network to profitability after four years in the red.
In an interview, Ibrahim said the reorganization of the eight-county system that began when he arrived in June from Integris Health Systems in Oklahoma is largely complete. Still, “we’re in the first stages of transformation,” he said. “Now the real work begins.”
As an example of where the 5,200-job organization is going, he cited Human Resources, which has unified all network hiring at www.bassett.org/careers, under the direction of Melanie Craig, Human Resources, Employment & Employee Relations.
Click through, and you can quickly find out about all jobs available in the system.
Until now, he said, there have been “five hospitals with five different levels of quality, service, efficiency and costs.”
As with the Human Resources piece, fully implementing the new concept is going to require broadband to be fully implemented, and Ibrahim said he’s received “encouraging news” through Congressman Antonio Delgado’s office that greater funding for that will be forthcoming.
Friday’s announcement included details of a reorganization into a North Region (Bassett and Little Falls hospitals) and a South Region (Cobleskill, Fox in Oneonta and O’Connor in Delhi).
A “System Executive Leadership Team” will administer each: North led by Bassett Hospital President Bill LeCates; South by Cobleskill Regional Hospital President Eric Stein.
Each team has three vice presidents – for operations, medical affairs and nursing – that report to LeCates or Stein, and implement a horizontal management structure aimed at achieving consistent levels of expertise across the region.
This is in addition to a Leadership Team announced over the past few months, led by Ibrahim and including CFO Paul Swinko, COO Jeff Joyner, LeCates and others.
The announcement also included eliminating 41 positions by March, in addition to 15 leadership positions that have already been eliminated in the restructuring. A network-wide program called SCORE (Securing Career Opportunities for Redeployed Employees) will seek to find places for those employees in the new structure.
The network executives will be taking 5-10 percent “voluntary reductions” in pay, with Ibrahim himself taking a 20-percent pay cut.
This, of course, has caused consternation among employees, but Ibrahim is striving to move forward with “compassion, dignity and respect” toward employees who, through the reorganization, are being shifted out of their jobs.
As part of this effort, a seven-page, single-spaced FAQ was emailed to employees Monday, Dec. 15, seeking to allay concerns and detailing available options.
With the reorganization and streamlining, Ibrahim said, the hospital network is aiming to “break even” in 2021, and a return to profitability after that. He said the network has operated in the red for the past four years.
Asked if the restructuring of the network from hospital-centric “silos” to a cross-network system based on areas of medical expertise was one of his successes as chief physician at Integris, he said yes. But similar approaches are being implemented in all successful hospital systems across the country, he added.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
The Bassett Healthcare Network’s new CEO, Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, introduces himself in the eight-county network’s monthly e-newsletter, and encourages patients who may have delayed treatment during the pandemic threat that it’s time for them to return to routine checkups and treatment.
By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett’s new president and CEO has been called “a man on a mission.”
Just 39, Dr. Tommy Ibrahim has accomplished a great deal in a short time.
He graduated from medical school at 23 and made a rapid ascent into leadership positions, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief physician executive for Integris Health System, the largest not-for-profit and state-owned health care system in Oklahoma. It’s a top 25 healthcare system, according to U.S. News and World Report.
“He brings to us the experience of being the top physician leader of a large, highly regarded health system,” said Douglas Hastings, chairman of the network board, in announcing the appointment Tuesday, May 19. He praised Ibrahim’s “innovative and forward-looking drive to embrace the future of healthcare and to advance Bassett’s mission of improving the health of our patients and the well-being of our communities.”
Ibrahim will succeed Bill Streck as head of the eight-county hospital system when he arrives here in mid- to late July.
Ibrahim called the position at Bassett “a wonderful opportunity for any leader.”
“It is a phenomenal organization and has a legacy that is unparalleled,” he said, pointing to Bassett’s academic and research strengths and its rural setting. “The opportunity to be a part of that and to continue shaping the future of such a prestigious organization is really the main attraction.”
Ibrahim said he will begin by listening and learning as much about Bassett as possible.
“How we move together as an organization and how we continue the agility and resiliency of Bassett to meet the changing healthcare landscape will be very important,” he said.
He wants to continue to improve access to healthcare in this rural community and to take
a preventive approach to care.
“With the industry transforming before our eyes, it is a wonderful opportunity to use this time as a catalyst for reimagining how we take care of patients,” he said. “It is an exciting time and a great opportunity for us to advance healthcare in new ways.”
► “MAN ON MISSION”
Integris’ website contains a 2019 news release congratulating Ibrahim when he was nominated as one of Modern Healthcare magazine’s 50 Most Influential Clinical Leaders.
The release calls him “young, a bit of an overachiever and a man on a mission.”
Ibrahim’s parents – a mechanical engineer and a businesswoman – were born and
raised in Egypt, but emigrated to New Jersey. There, they had two sons, Ibrahim and his younger brother, who now practices family medicine in Chicago, the release states.
The older son’s interest in medicine came after an unspecified “significant accident” when he was 16, he said in the release.
“It was one of those experiences that helps you appreciate life a lot more,” he was quoted as saying. “I’ve always had a deep connection to helping others but wasn’t quite clear on how I was going to fulfill my passion until I had my own experience as a patient.” He attended a 5-year medical school program in Cambridge, England, immediately after high school, graduating at 23.
Integris called Ibrahim’s leadership there “transformational” and said he was “elevating the tenor” of its entire system.
Though Ibrahim is a practicing hospitalist, he opted to go into administration because he felt he could have greater impact there.
“As a physician, I see 16 to 20 patients a day and could make that impact daily,” he said in the release. “As chief physician executive, I can have a positive impact on close to 2,000 patients a day.”
Ibrahim will succeed a local legend: Dr. Streck, an endocrinologist who arrived here in the late 1970s, was Bassett Hospital president/CEO by 1984, and spent the next 30 years building a single hospital in the multi-county system the new president/CEO will inherit.
Retiring in 2014, Streck, now 72, joined HASNY, the Healthcare Association of New York State, as chief medical and health systems innovation officer. But when his successor, Dr. Vance Brown, resigned in March 2018, Streck was summoned back in an interim role as network president/CEO. The position of Bassett Hospital president was created at that time, filled by Dr. Bill LeCates.
At Integris, Ibrahim served as the physician executive in charge of leading the strategic direction for clinical services throughout the 19-hospital health system of owned and joint-venture assets, including all clinical operations, the physician enterprise, and system integration objectives. This position included direct responsibility for system research, graduate medical education and medical informatics.
“I am humbled,” said Ibrahim, “to become part of the Bassett family and to follow in the footsteps of the visionary leaders.”
In 2014-17, Ibrahim was chief physician officer and vice president of medical affairs at Mercy Health Network in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2010-14, he was senior vice president and chief physician executive at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill.
Ibrahim received his M.D. and bachelor of Medical Science degree in England and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, an academic affiliate of Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, Md.
He holds a master of science degree in Health Administration from Seton Hall University. He received a graduate certificate in Organizational Behavior & Executive Coaching from the University of Texas, in Dallas, and was nominated to Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Clinical Leaders of 2019.
He is a practicing hospitalist and boarded in internal medicine and hospital medicine.
Ibrahim is also a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, fellow in Hospital Medicine, and received the Certified Physician Executive accreditation from the American Association of Physician Leadership.
Ibrahim’s accomplishments also include improving rural health care at Mercy Health Network through the successful implementation of telehealth programs for rural Iowa network hospitals, and improving access to residents in remote communities.
He has held board positions with Autism Oklahoma, Health Alliance for the Uninsured, and The Iowa Medical Education Collaborative, where he served as board chair from 2014-17. Founder of the J. Christian Autism Foundation, he was a Medical Missionary for International Medical Relief in 2016 and was a GI research assistant for the National Institutes of Health in 2009.
Ibrahim grew up in Jersey City. He said he came to Cooperstown with his father many years ago and spent summers on Lake George, so the region is familiar.
He and his wife Marian have two children, John-Christian, 10, and Sophia Haven, 5. They are looking forward to returning East and excited to call Cooperstown home.
“Outdoor galore!” Ibrahim said. “We are going to love the lake. I jet ski and hike and run. I can’t wait to spend my first summer here. It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to get started.”
COOPERSTOWN – Dr. Tommy Ibrahim has been appointed as the next Bassett Healthcare Network president/CEO, succeeding Bill Streck as head of the eight-county hospital system. He is expected to arrived here in mid to late July.
Extending a Bassett tradition for its chief executives, he is a physician.
Dr. Ibrahim, 39, has held leadership positions within the healthcare industry for the past 14 years, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief physician executive for Integris Health System, the largest not-for-profit and state-owned health care system in Oklahoma.
U.S. News & World Report placed Integris on its list of Top 25 healthcare systems in the U.S.