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As we embark on a new year, I am honored and humbled to have been named the interim president and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. I joined Bassett last May as executive vice president, chief operating officer and it was immediately clear to me when I arrived just how special this organization is and what a wonderful group of devoted caregivers we have here.

Bassett is experiencing a moment of great progress and evolution. Now, as I find myself with the immense privilege of serving in this capacity, I am thrilled to join together with our caregivers, roll up our sleeves, and build on this momentum.

In the past few months alone, Bassett caregivers have guided major service additions to our facilities, including a brand new hybrid operating room at Bassett Medical Center, which is a state-of-the-art cardiac surgery facility that greatly expands options for emergency heart interventions; da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery at A.O. Fox Hospital to accommodate more advanced surgical procedures in Oneonta; opening our 22nd school-based health center at Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School; and collaborating with Helios Care to establish more cohesive and integrated hospice and palliative care services to patients across Central New York.

2024 will continue to bring advancements at Bassett Healthcare Network. I am determined to lead our journey forward with a focus on increasing efficiency, improving access and above all, keeping our focus day in and day out on improving patient experiences.

I am also looking forward to the specialty pharmacy we have slated to launch this year in partnership with Geisinger, a nationally recognized health system in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. The specialty pharmacy will offer patients access to clinically complex medications that are not available at regular retail pharmacies in our rural area, focusing on treatments for complicated diseases.

We also continue to expand virtual care appointment options for patients — which will significantly increase access in our clinics as more people discover the convenience that TeleHealth offers from the comfort of their homes, offices, or wherever we can meet you online.

Importantly, we will also continue to critically prioritize retention and recruitment through 2024. Bassett has many assets that allow us to provide the exceptional care our communities depend on — the greatest of these is our caregivers.

I am very pleased to share that Bassett is continuing to offer enhanced sign-on bonuses for eligible candidates including up to $35,000 for registered nurses and up to $20,000 for a variety of other clinical positions. In 2023, we filled more than 1,500 non-agency, permanent positions across the network. Of these, 552 were nursing positions.

While we are making excellent progress, it is imperative that we continue to recruit the best talent at Bassett. It is vital that we bring more permanent employees to Bassett Healthcare Network, while at the same time focus on the engagement and retention of our loyal and dedicated caregivers.

In addition to placing tremendous resources towards recruitment, we are also exercising great efforts to structure career paths and development opportunities for the employees who are already working with us, including moving Bassett Medical Center closer to Magnet designation, the most prestigious recognition for nursing excellence and professional practice.

In every aspect of our health system, I see energy and commitment to our mission, pursuit of excellence, and a culture of continuous improvement, making Bassett stronger and ready to accommodate the needs of our communities in a changing healthcare environment. Most importantly, I am awed by the dedication, knowledge, and teamwork of our caregivers to provide the best patient experiences possible.

So much more is yet to come as Bassett grows with the communities we serve. I am proud to help lead this exceptional organization at such an exciting time. Thank you for trusting us with your care. Let’s turn the page on a new chapter together. Here is to a wonderful 2024!

This column was originally published in the Oneonta Daily Star, and can be found here.


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