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.
[Editor’s note: The following letter comes from Diane Earl, RN, submitted on behalf of the NYSNA nurses at AO Fox and Fox Hospital Tri-Town Campus]
Like nurses everywhere, the nurses at A.O. Fox Hospital and Fox Hospital Tri-Town Campus have experienced some of the most harrowing times of our careers these last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as a patient is discharged from the hospital, that bed is then almost immediately filled with a patient who has been waiting — sometimes for days in the ER — for a bed to open up on the inpatient unit. Our hospitals are overwhelmed and understaffed.
Nurses on the frontlines are dedicated to caring for our patients, but we often leave our shifts feeling like we haven’t been able to give our patients the best care — even when we stay late. It’s a terrible feeling. To make matters worse, we don’t feel like we have the support from management to improve the situation. There are not enough nurses; what used to be a nursing shortage is now a crisis as more nurses leave due to feeling underappreciated for the work we do.
Back in July, we felt more optimistic. Bassett Healthcare Network’s new president and CEO, Dr. Ibrahim, started making some changes to better serve our patients in a multi-county area. The nurses at A.O. Fox Hospital and Fox Hospital Tri-Town Campus, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, negotiated a union contract that was fair to the hospital, to NYSNA members, and ultimately, to our patients.
So, it came as a shock when money was donated by a generous benefactor to give all Bassett employees a $3,000 year-end “thank you” bonus for their courageous work during the COVID-
Frances E. “Casey” Ives, who served for many years as a Registered Nurse at Fox Hospital in Oneonta, sadly passed away Saturday morning, April 17, 2021, at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown. At the age of 96. She almost beat COVID-19.
Born May 22, 1924, in Hopedale, Massachusetts, she was a daughter of Alfred Joseph Howarth and Violet Turner Howarth. Raised in Massachusetts, she moved with her family as a teenager to New Jersey. After graduating from high school she attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and earned a bachelor’s degree. In 1948 she married Fred Jones and moved to Wisconsin.
After their marriage ended in divorce, Frances came back East to live with her parents in Delaware County where they had a large horse farm in Fergusonville.
Realizing she needed to make a career for herself, Frances enrolled at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City and graduated in 1958 as a Registered Nurse. She returned to the Oneonta area and was employed for many years at the A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital. It was there that she received her nickname, “Casey.” At the time, her last name was Jones, and because of her quick ways and mannerisms, a patient called her “Casey Jones” and the name stuck. In her retirement, she continued caring for people and helped out at The Meadows in Cooperstown.
COOPERSTOWN – Edward F. Danielski, Jr., a radiologist at Bassett Hospital and later director of Fox Hospital’s radiology department, passed away at home on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.
The son of Edward Danielski Sr. and Jennie Danielski, Edward was born on July 12, 1930, in Greenfield, Mass.
He attended Deerfield Academy and graduated from Harvard College, cum laude, in 1953. He went to Columbia Medical School and served his internship and residency at the Columbia division of Bellevue Hospital under the service of Drs. Andre Cournand and Dickinson Richards, who had recently received Nobel prizes in medicine.
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.
In a daily press conference Monday, Jan. 4, Governor Cuomo called out Fox Hospital: If the Oneonta facility doesn’t use its anti-COVID vaccine allocation more quickly, it won’t get any more.
The governor said Fox had only used 18 percent of the doses it has.
Bassett Healthcare Network’s spokesman, Karen Huxtable-Hooker, said that figure is actually 30 percent as of Tuesday the 5th, both at Fox and its Tri-Town Campus in Sidney.
In all, she said, more than 2,000 Bassett Network staffers had been vaccinated, with 52 percent of the Moderna virus supply used up. The network employs 5,200 people over nine counties.
Bassett Hospital received its Moderna allotment Dec. 23, and immediately began vaccinating, Huxtable-Hooker said, and continues “to offer vaccination clinics for our health care staff, as do all of the hospitals in the Bassett network.”
The pace of vaccinations is just one challenge Bassett is facing, along with rising hospitalization – “double what it was in November,” she said. “The continued escalation of COVID-19 cases is challenging resources, but (at Bassett Hospital) we are managing.”
“Fortunately, with five hospitals in the network, we are able to make use of all available beds to meet patient needs to identify space within our hospitals that can appropriately be converted for patient care needs as demand dictates,” she said.
On a “case-by-case basis,” she continued, some elective surgeries that require hospital says have been postponed “ to have those beds available for seriously ill patients,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Despite such challenges, healthcare workers see the vaccine as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Some staffers have declined the vaccine, “but this has been the exception,” the spokesman said. “Most staff members are anxious to receive the vaccine as soon as they are eligible and can be scheduled.”
While there are two bills in the state Legislature seeking to mandate that healthcare workers and others be vaccinated, they have not yet been acted on. (See related story, Page A1).
Nor has the state Department of Health issued any such order, so “we cannot require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but we are strongly encouraging it,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, she said, masks, social distancing, hand-washing and the like is being encouraged to reduce transmission, she said.
At his Sunday, Jan. 3 press conference, Cuomo said 70-90 percent of New Yorkers need to be vaccinated to push back COVID-19, part of his dismay at the vaccination rate.
If hospitals do not use up their allotment they may face fines and/or possible disqualification from future vaccine distributions, according to Cuomo’s statements.
“Bassett Healthcare Network continues holding vaccination clinics with the goal of using the vaccine allocated to us,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, asymptomatic rapid testing will be available to the public as long as supplies last at Bassett’s Oneonta location on 125 Main St.
Reservations are required by calling 607-433-6510 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The network is working to schedule other locations and dates for asymptomatic testing.
Main Street Baptist Church has stepped up to provide a home shelter on “Code Blue” nights this winter, when temperatures are below freezing, or the wind chill makes it feel that way.
The only obstacle is $40,000-50,000 – a one-time sum needed to enable Catholic Charities to run the program. Once it gets going, the state will fund it.
So a fundraising effort was launched this week, according to Brad Feik, liaison between the Baptist church and Caring for the Homeless Collaborative, which Fox Hospital assembled two years ago on discovering its Emergency Room was the shelter available from wintry storms.
A letter went out Monday, Dec. 7, to the county’s “faith community,” signed by the Rev. Cynthia Walton-Leavitt, pastor of Oneonta’s “Red Door” Presbyterian Church, and Jennifer Schuman, of Fox’s Homeless Collaborative.
“Any donation of any amount is welcome to make this heartfelt dream of a Community Warming Station come true,” said the letter.
A member of Main Street Baptist provided 189 Main St., a former optical store, for the warming station, according to Feik, who with his wife Noel operate Otego’s Crossroads Inn, providing sober-living housing for people released from rehab and jail, and for the homeless.
Renovations began over the weekend, said Feik, and should be completed in the next few days. The hope is to open the warming station in mid-January, at the time it’s most needed.
He estimated there are 50-60 homeless people in Oneonta at any one time, and when “Code Blue” weather arrives, 3-7 people may sleep from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. In some cases, people whose furnaces runs out of oil during cold snaps will use the facility as well.
The “warming station” concept emerged two years ago from Fox Hospital’s Ethics Committee, which was concerned about removing homeless people from the Emergency Room where they congregated on cold nights because they had nowhere else to go, according to Schuman.
She called Dr. Reggie Knight, who last month was named chief physician executive for Bassett Healthcare Network, the “administrative champion” of the concept. Feik also credited Jeff Joyner,
Fox Hospital president who was recently promoted to Network COO.
“We’ve been speaking with funding sources and asking local citizens for contributions,” said Schuman.
“Code Blue” was defined a few years ago by an executive order from Governor Cuomo. Currently, on cold nights people in need of shelter must go to the Opportunity for Otsego shelter and use the term “Code Blue” to receive a voucher a night’s lodging, Schuman said.
The warming station, she said, “would be a very low barrier” for people seeking shelter, some of who are “people who have difficulty with authority.”
According to Feik, the demand for the “warming station” might actually be less than usual this winter, since COVID-19 regulations have prevented banks from foreclosing and landlords from evicting tenants.
He emphasized that the $40,000-50,000 is a one-time amount. Once the program gets going, the state Office of Temporary Disability will pay for it, Feik said, but there’s a six-month lag, and Catholic Charities doesn’t have the reserves to run the operation in the meantime.
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
COOPERSTOWN – The Bassett Health Network this morning announced four key promotions, including that of Fox Hospital President Jeff Joyner to network senior vice president/chief operating officer, as the new president/CEO, Tommy Ibrahim, here since July, begins to put his team in place.
The other three key appointments are:
Michael Thompson, as 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-year tenure at Bassett, she was most recently Department of Surgery senior director, overseeing leadership of Women’s Health, Anesthesia and Perioperative Services.
ONEONTA – George W. Smith, Jr., 93, went home peacefully to the Lord on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
George, Junior or Smitty, was born in Rome, N.Y, in 1926, the son of George and Maude (Race) Smith. In 1944, he joined the Navy to defend our freedom in World War II. He trained and served on the USS Manatee in the South Pacific. His service to our country is something he always held in deepest honor and respect.
Returning from military service, Smitty married his sweetheart, Doris Clark, in October 1947 in Rome. Together they raised their sons, George W. Smith, III, and Gary M. Smith, now an A.O. Fox Hospital vice president, spending summers on Piseco Lake.
Jeff Joyner, Fox Hospital president, waves as decorated fire trucks from 17 area departments, including police and EMS, drove by the hospital this afternoon in a parade dedicated to thanking Fox Hospital staff for their work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the fire companies, the parade also included Mayor Gary Herzig, The Red Knights Motorcycle Club and a fly-over from the LifeNet helicopter. At right, Kristy Gee and Tiffany Pickett let the drivers know their appreciation as the parade passes by them and their fellow workers lined up outside Fox Hospital. After passing the hospital, the parade continued onto the Fox Care Center to laud workers there as well. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – Maureen Glueckert, 83, a native of Scotland who moved to Oneonta in 1999 and worked at Fox Hospital, passed away on April 11, 2020, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
She was born on Sept. 28, 1936, in Clydebank, Scotland, to Catherine and William Gorman. Maureen graduated from Clydebank High School and then she moved to the United States in January 1960, where she met and married Fred Glueckert a year later.
SIDNEY– Effective May 1, Fox Hospital’s Tri-Town Campus in Sidney, part of Bassett Healthcare Network, will be shifted to a daytime schedule, with emergency services available only from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
“A physician-staffed emergency department, laboratory, and radiology services will remain available at Fox’s Tri-Town Campus, along with a variety of specialty services including orthopedic care,” said Fox Hospital President Jeff Joyner. “Patients who need a higher level of care will continue to be transported to the closest acute care hospital appropriate to their medical condition.”