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.
So it was particularly good news when Streck’s successor, Bassett President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim, announced Friday, Feb. 12, that Jim Seward has agreed to join Bassett parttime in an advisory capacity as a strategic affairs liaison, to interface with Albany and/or advise the hospital system how to do so.
Since arriving last June, Dr. Ibrahim has been fully immersed in an exciting and promising reorganization and streamlining of the eight-county hospital system. Essential, too, as Bassett has operated in the red the past few years; Ibrahim must return it to profitability.
Streck developed his Albany contacts over decades. Ibrahim has had eight months to do so, eight months when he was fully engaged in his day job.
Good executives, even great ones, delegate. Ibrahim doesn’t have to do everything – he shouldn’t; he can’t – and the former senator’s recruitment is a canny tactical step that portends well for our county’s short-term battle with COVID and the long-term health of Bassett.