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News of Otsego County

tommy ibrahim

Bassett bonuses thank workers
Dr. Tommy Ibrahim

Bassett bonuses thank workers

By Ted Potrikus

Bassett Healthcare Network last week awarded ‘gratitude’ bonuses to its full complement of some 5,000 full- and part-time employees, made possible in large part through a donation from the Scriven Foundation.

Speaking with The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, Bassett Healthcare Network President and CEO Dr. Tommy Ibrahim credited the entire staff for its hard work throughout another year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course it’s been another tumultuous year,” he said. “Bassett Healthcare and every person we serve was carried through it on the shoulders of our caregivers and practitioners.”

Bassett Healthcare forced to cut service because of worker shortages

Bassett Healthcare
forced to cut service
because of worker shortages

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Just one day after the vaccination mandate deadline, Bassett Healthcare was forced to cut services in certain areas because of a loss of staff members, Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Bassett announced the changes Tuesday,  calling it a need to “redeploy staff temporarily” because of shortages.

Services affected include outpatient laboratory draws, which are now by appointment only. Cooperstown Convenient Care has been forced to close and wait times for phone calls will take longer than usual, according to a media release from Bassett Healthcare.

Healthcare groups take different vax views

Healthcare groups take different vax views

Despite court stay, Bassett to require employees to comply; Cooperstown Center asks state to reconsider

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Healthcare groups in Otsego County are dealing with the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and the need to keep their facilities staffed.

Bassett Healthcare Network, one of the largest employers in the area, is determined to vaccinate its entire workforce in spite of backlash and the potential loss of employees.

Bassett has made some progress on the vaccine front. According to an internal email penned by Bassett Healthcare CEO Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, vaccinations of its employees are at 90%. About two weeks ago, the vaccination rate was only 75%, according to Bassett officials.

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 www.AllOTSEGO.com

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 www.AllOTSEGO.com

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.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Celebrate Independence Day! 07-04-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, JULY 4

Celebrate Independence Day!

14-19eventspage

CELEBRATION – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Celebrate the nations independence with sights and souds of the 18th century. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/event/independence-day-celebration/

INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE – 1 p.m. The parade will line up at Noon at Foothills and proceed down Main Street to Neahwa Park for remarks and festivities. All essential workers are invited to participate and will have a chance to win door prizes from local businesses when they register. Bassett CEO Tommy Ibrahim will be serving as Grand Marshall. Main Street, Oneonta. Visit www.facebook.com/FNOneonta/

INDEPENDENCE DAY FESTIVAL – 2 – 11 p.m. After the Parade enjoy food, entertainment on the main stage, support local artisans, and much more at the festival. Mayor Gary Herzig and mayoral candidates will be presenting remarks to honor our essential workers. Neahwa Park, Oneonta. Visit www.facebook.com/FNOneonta/

INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS – 9:30 p.m. Five Star Subaru will be presenting the fireworks display, dedicated to Essential Workers, which will be ‘twice as intense’ as years past. Neahwa Park, Oneonta. Visit www.facebook.com/FNOneonta/

Breaking: Bassett Healthcare announces shake up in top positions

Breaking: Bassett Healthcare announces shake up in top positions

STAFF REPORT • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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.

STERNBERG: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Get Shots
LETTER from RICHARD STERNBERG

Neighbors Helping
Neighbors Get Shots

erna
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.

This past weekend Bassett performed an amazing feat of vaccinating a large group of people, more than 1,100 over two days. The confirmation of vaccine availability only came though on Wednesday, March 3, leaving but two full days to prepare. Nevertheless, I visited on Sunday and it had the appearance of a military operation (which in a sense it was).

The Bassett community, from Dr. Tommy Ibrahim on down should be proud, as should the staff of the Clark Sports Center, which hosted the event.

I want to especially commend the Bassett Director of Network Pharmacy, Kelly Rudd, Pharm.D., who was in command of the clinic from planning through implementation.

She worked from the list of patients from the state, a list of patients from Bassett’s own scheduling system, and an ad hoc group of volunteers who worked to contact and track down people qualified to be vaccinated, but for whom the computer-driven scheduling system was difficult or even impossible to use.

Also, many thanks are due to the Bassett staff who took the time to make hundreds of calls to help schedule seniors 65+.

There are many reports of computer-savvy individuals signing up friends, family members, and neighbors for vaccine appointments. To see this community spirit and kindness is a great thing.

The clinic was also able to smoothly access the waiting list to make sure no dose went unused. The volunteer group – which went out and identified about 175 people who had difficulty finding appointments on their own – included church members, other faith-based organizations, philanthropic NGOs (non-government organizations) including the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and additional individuals.

Many had been working on an individual basis, but recognized the synergy of working together.

With Seward, Bassett Reclaims Some Of County’s Ebbing Clout
EDITORIAL

With Seward, Bassett Reclaims

Some Of County’s Ebbing Clout

Bill Streck (blue tie) and Jim Seward (red tie) learned what levers to push in Albany over three decades.

Someone was remarking the other day that, over almost four decades, Otsego County had two key players that could be called upon in any crisis.

One, Bill Streck, Bassett Healthcare Network president/CEO since 1984, who spent years developing contacts in Albany. A Democrat, he was a go-to guy around here, someone who could call the Governor’s Office and expect an answer.

Two, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who served in Albany from 1986 until this past Dec. 31, rising to leadership and maintaining it until the Senate shifted to the Democrats. Even then, he – like Streck – knew where the levers of power were and how to push them.

In the past year Streck, 74, and Seward, 69, both retired. In tackling the largest crisis in a century, which arguably the COVID-19 pandemic is, their departures left a void.

Bassett Recruits Seward As Liason With Albany

Bassett Recruits Seward

As Liason With Albany

James L. Seward

Anticipating 36-year state Sen. Jim Seward’s retirement, Bassett President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim “asked me to join his team” when the two met for the first time last fall, the senator said.

Conversations continued, and Friday, Feb. 12, Ibrahim made it official: Seward has joined the hospital network as a “strategic affairs liaison,” offering advice on a part-time basis on how it can interact with Albany to obtain the best outcomes.

In an interview, Ibrahim reported that Carolyn Lewis, former county economic development director, has been promoted from a Friends of Bassett role to director of public & legislative affairs, leading the hospital’s lobbying effort, and Seward’s expertise will be available to her.

“As a senator,” Ibrahim said, Seward “was a strong advocate of programs that support the health and well-being of the people in our region. (This) is a natural extension of Jim’s life and career.”

For his part, Seward pointed out that state Ethics Law prohibits state legislators from lobbying their former colleagues for two years after leaving office; but he can approach his contacts in the Executive Branch, which includes the state Department of Health and other agency systems that Bassett depends on.

And he knows who makes what decisions.

“I was very impressed with Tommy,” said Seward. “Since coming here, he’s put together a new management team. They’ve been developing a vision and a plan going forward. I look forward to doing whatever I can to assist the Bassett leadership.”’

Seward, who represented Otsego County in Albany for 36 years before retiring Dec. 31, said, “I’m ready to tackle new things. But I’m also glad to do this on a part-time basis. I do want to smell the roses a bit, too.”

Seward To Join Bassett Network In Liaison Role

BULLETIN

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.

In COVID Year, Leaders Did Step Up
Editorial

In COVID Year,

Leaders Did Step Up

The choice of Heidi Bond, “General in the Fight Against COVID-19,” as we put it, has been seconded by many since the “Citizen of the Year” edition appeared last week. She and her team at the Otsego County Department of Health rose to the challenge.

All of us thank her for her tireless contributions in 2020.

Otsego County has been lucky in leadership this year. Here are four other individuals who shone, and there are many others who, unheralded, have as well.

Many county leaders stepped up during the COVID Year, among them, from left, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, Bassett Healthcare Network CEO Tommy Ibrahim, SUNY Oneonta President Dennis Craig and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.

One, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, who returned Jan. 20 from a 12-month deployment in Djibouti with the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, Army Reserves, expecting to settle back into civilian life with wife Amy, daughter Mia, now 12, and son Cooper, 7.

Instead, he went from one foxhole to another.

By the end of March, he was in the midst of COVID-19, and county government found itself in a financial crisis, laying off 58 FTEs, and looking ahead to a hefty tax increase.

Then came the Ruffles Plan, which the first-term treasurer developed in consultation with colleagues in similar-sized counties: one, cuts; two, borrowing; three, chase limited money still flowing from Albany.

The plan reduced the deficit from $13.5 million to $5.4 million; borrows $4 million over 20 years at a historically low interest rate (1.0033 percent), and front-loads road work next spring (CHIPS money is still flowing from Albany).

This kept the county 2021 budget under the 2-percent tax cap.

Ruffles could have been buried under county-budgeting minutiae, but was able to see the big picture: COVID isn’t going to last forever – it could be at bay in weeks, certainly months. Then, tourism will return, sales tax will return – and the county will be able to fulfill its obligations.

Two, Tommy Ibrahim, recruited from nine-hospital Integris in Oklahoma with a goal of elevating quality and efficiency at the eight-county Bassett Healthcare Network, and returning it to profitability.

He arrived in June, and by December announced implementation of “OneBassett,” flattening the five “silos” – the five hospitals – and managing them horizontally, by discipline.

It’s hard to wrap one’s brain around, but Google “Bassett Hospital HR” and see how hiring, formerly scattered across the system, has been unified, a one-stop shop to getting a job at Basset, if you will.

Think it through. You can see how organizing and managing Bassett services individually – enabled by technology that wasn’t there a few years ago – could raise efficiency and lower costs across the board.

This isn’t just theoretical. Bassett has lost money for four years. Ibrahim – “call me Tommy,” he’ll say when you meet him – expects “OneBassett” to put the system at break-even by the end of 2021 and in the black after that.

A prosperous Bassett is essential to our aggregated health, prosperity and quality of life. Important stuff.

Three and Four: SUNY Oneonta’s new president, Dennis Craig, and the new SUNY chancellor, Jim Malatras.

A “super spreader” event on Friday, Aug. 21, the first weekend students returned, had pushed on-campus “positives” to 107 within a week.

Sunday, Aug. 30, the new chancellor was at SUNY Oneonta, trying to figure out what went wrong. And he acted, suspending classes for two weeks. As positives went over 300, he closed the campus for the semester.

By mid-October, campus President Barbara Jean Morris had resigned and, to succeed her, Malatras named Dennis Craig, who as president of SUNY Purchase kept a campus outbreak to seven cases in New Rochelle.

Craig’s action team came up with a plan of reopening within two weeks, and he successfully quelled a faculty revolt, and lined up enough support to aim at reopening on Feb. 1.

This is leadership.

In crisis, leaders emerge. And that happened here. Happily, identifying Heidi Bond and four other high-profile leaders doesn’t take anything away from the many others.

County Board chair David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield, as he does so well, brought together the talent around him – Ruffles, Meg Kennedy, Bond, Brian Pokorny and many others.

The mayors of Oneonta and Cooperstown, Gary Herzig and Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch respectively, Bill Streck in his final weeks at Bassett’s helm, and his COVID team, were all great.

And this doesn’t mention all of our fellow citizens who soldiered on – businesspeople and non-profits alike – and church, and schools, and police, and …

The point is, there are a lot of people we can thank as Otsego County begins to come back to life in 2021.

‘OneBassett’ Is Promising Idea; Let’s Get Behind It

AllOTSEGO.com MINI-EDITORIAL

‘OneBassett’ Is Promising

Idea; Let’s Get Behind It

This mini-editorial is prompted by our next two editions’ editorials:  This coming week, the topic is, of course, Christmas.  The following week, Citizen of the Year.

That means we would be unable to comment on “OneBassett,” an exciting innovation at the 5,200-employee Bassett Healthcare System, until the New Year.

We all depend on Bassett, particularly in Otsego County on the mother ship, Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, and Fox Hospital in Oneonta, for our health, for employment, as a magnet for brainy people, for economic development and for the general vitality of our communities.

So every one of us has a stake in Bassett’s success, as do the seven counties beyond Otsego that the system serves.

‘ONE BASSETT” NOW A REALITY, IBRAHIM SAYS

CLICK FOR TEXT OF ANNOUNCEMENT

‘ONE BASSETT’

NOW A REALITY,

IBRAHIM SAYS

North-South Regions, Pay Cuts,

Layoffs Open Way To Profitability

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bassett President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim in his spare office in the Cooperstown medical complex. (Jim Kevln/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – “OneBassett” is here, Network President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim announced yesterday.

Ibrahim, who arrived in June from Integris Health Systems in Oklahoma, also announced the reorganization of the eight-county network is largely complete.  It creates a  North Region (Bassett and Little Falls hospitals) and a South Region (Cobleskill, Fox and O’Connor in Delhi).

And he announced “system executives” in the North (Bassett President Bill LeCates) and South (Cobleskill Regional Hospital Eric Stein) who, with a team of three vice presidents – for operations, medical affairs and nursing – will implement a  horizontal management structure aimed at achieving consistent levels of expertise across the region.

MORE COVERAGE IN THIS WEEK’S NEWSPAPERS

 

Bassett Appoints Vice Presidents To Lead Physician, Nursing Corps

Bassett Appoints Vice Presidents

To Lead Physician, Nursing Units

Dr. Robinson
Dr. Knight

COOPERSTOWNDr. Reginald Knight has been appointed the new senior vice president, chief physician executive for Bassett Healthcare Network, Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, president/CEO announced today.

Dr. Denise Robinson has accepted the role of senior vice president, chief nurse executive for the network, Ibrahim also announced.

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