Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our discussions with SUNY Upstate

In late May, I announced that Community was interested in discussing a potential affiliation with SUNY Upstate University Hospital. Yesterday, I reported on the progress we have made in discussions with Upstate.

Here is the text of a memo I sent to members of the Community General family:

On Thursday, June 24, the Community General Hospital board of directors voted to approve a letter of intent that identifies CGH’s desire to negotiate a merger with Upstate University Hospital. I am very pleased to report that the ongoing discussions with University Hospital’s leadership have been productive. The potential benefits of a merger are encouraging for each facility, and more importantly, for the Central New York community.

This afternoon the SUNY Board of Trustees approved a resolution to support SUNY Upstate Medical University’s acquisition of Community General Hospital. As such, Community General Hospital would partner with Upstate University Hospital and expand Upstate Medical University’s clinical presence in the Syracuse area. The approval of the resolution today demonstrates SUNY’s commitment to improving the health care resources in the Syracuse area. CGH’s strategic plan to become part of a larger health system took a significant step forward because of the action by the SUNY trustees.

CGH and Upstate have drafted a vision and set of principles for the proposed relationship. Key among these is respect for the voluntary medical staff at CGH. These principles were reviewed at the semi-annual meeting of the CGH medical staff on June 12, 2010.

Planning committees related to finance, communications, and operations are currently being established with representatives from Upstate and CGH, while medical staff representatives are expected to begin discussions soon regarding clinical service improvements. In addition, Upstate has retained PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop a business plan for the proposed merged entity.

There are many parts to any new relationship, and our potential affiliation with Upstate is no different. A tremendous amount of progress has been made in a short period of time, and representatives from both institutions are working efficiently, but carefully, to establish the most comprehensive health care system for the community at large.

I will continue to keep the CGH family updated as additional details become available in the coming weeks and months. I thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to CGH and the patients we serve.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This year it was Bill's Tourney

Last week -- the 26th anniversary of the Community General Foundation Pro-Am Golf Tournament -- was held in memory of Bill Towsley.

Until his death on March 10, Bill was the Business Manager of IBEW Local Union #43. He was also a member of the Foundation Board and a long-time friend of Community General Hospital.

More than 200 people attended the Pro-Am on June 18 at the Shenandoah Golf Club at the Turning Stone Resort under picture-perfect skies.

Bill's son Ken played in the IBEW #43 foursome, and all his children attended the award ceremonies at the end of play. They are Ken (with Jen), Billie (with Sarah), Tracy (with Tate), and Jennifer (with Jeremy). It was a wonderful and emotional end to a great day.

That's Don Morgan in the photo, at right. He is the Business Manger of IBEW Local Union #43, and with him are NECA Manager Marilyn Oppedisano and Pat Costello, Assistant Business Manager/ President of the Local.

This year's Pro-Am was supported by more than 90 local and national companies. It is Central New York's only charitable pro-am style tournament. Special thanks go to the Central New York PGA and its executive Alan Seamans for all the help and support in putting together this annual event.

Since its inception the Community General Foundation Pro-Am has raised over $2.2 million in support of Community General Hospital. Greg Cohen, senior vice president of EBS-RMSCO, Inc., and co-chair of the 2010 Golf Committee, announced that this year's Pro-Am was the most successful yet, raising some $170,000. He said this was the result of "tremendous generosity" from the sponsors. My thanks to Greg and to Jim Aiello, who also co-chaired the Golf Committee.

In the closing ceremonies, Greg officially announced the Pro-Am's new name: The Towsley Pro-Am to Benefit the Community General Foundation. Under Bill's leadership, Local #43 donated more than $80,000 to Pro-Am over the past nine years.

Bill passed away on March 10 after a courageous battle with cancer. He discussed the illness with me a number of times. Bill made no secret of the battle he was in, and he was as tough, as straightforward, and as honest in facing cancer as he was in his life as a labor leader.

I told Bill I admired his stoicism about the illness, and I allowed that "it must be tough for you sometimes, Bill."

"Sure it is," he said. "Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night. You can't help but think about things. But what are you going to do? You've got to face this thing and get on with your life."

On the day he died, a reporter called to ask my recollections of Bill. I told her stories about how I met him and how Bill and the IBEW supported a number of charities. At one point I described Bill as applying "gentle pressure" as he fought to make sure that firms using union labor were included in the competitive bidding process for construction jobs.

"You're the first person I've heard use the word 'gentle' in the same sentence as Bill Towsley," said the reporter.

I knew Bill as someone unapologetic about his union interests, one who was practical and forthright in pursuing his goals, one who was interested in the community, and one who stood by his friends.

At Bill's calling hours, I ran into a prominent elected official coming out of the Edward J. Ryan Funeral Home as I joined the hundreds-long waiting line going in. "We lost a good man," I said.

"He was a good one alright," said the official, "but he didn't hesitate to yell at me."

"Oh, he could yell at me too," I said. "But he was smart, he was a straight shooter, and he had a big heart."

I couldn't be prouder that the Pro-Am is now named for Bill and that in its first year the Towsley Tourney topped previous records for the Community General Foundation. I'd like to acknowledge and thank the sponsors of the 2010 Pro-Am, including:
Presenting Sponsor
IBEW Local 43/ NECA

Course Sponsor

Cart Sponsors
Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists
Welch Allyn

Pro Sponsor
Crouse Radiology Associates

Lunch Sponsors
Alliance Bank
Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC

Buffalo Hospital Supply
Burns Bros Contractors

Carrier Corporation
Empower FCU
Fust Charles Chambers
Honeywell, Inc.
Key Bank

M.S. Kennedy Corporation
Mackenzie Hughes, LLP
Practice Resource
Rural Metro

Upstate Emergency Medicine

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Remembering Bev Lippert

Kristin Schofield, Community's Director of Volunteer Services, sent the following remembrance of Bev Lippert, who died unexpectedly yesterday:
Our volunteers and staff are deeply saddened by the loss of our volunteer Beverly Lippert. Bev was killed in a car accident yesterday morning, June 21.

Beverly was a long time employee and retiree of CGH. She loved to tell stories of how she was the employee who ordered all of the first supplies for the Nursery when we first opened. She made all the decisions what to purchase and where to put it. If you walk to the cafeteria and see the photo from the 60’s of a nurse tending to a newborn baby you will see Bev at her finest, doing what she loved, clad in her nursing whites and her cap. She was a very dedicated nurse who cared for several current staff members when they had babies (as well as some staff members who were the babies themselves).

After retirement, Bev continued at CGH as a volunteer, Auxilian and was a current Auxiliary board member. Many of you may recognize Bev as Mimi’s handler. Mimi was her toy poodle that, for years, she brought to the nursing floors to visit patients. Bev also gave many hours as a volunteer at the Diagnostic Desk on Thursday mornings. As of June 17, the last day she volunteered with us, she had given over 4,800 hours to volunteer service.

Calling hours will be tomorrow at Buranich Funeral Home in Camillus from 4 – 7pm and the funeral will be held Thursday at 10 am in the Fairmount Community Church.
Bev did not have any immediate family members but made a lot of friends CGH in the 47 years she was associated with us and considered us her family. She will be missed and remembered fondly. Please keep her in your thoughts.
Thank you, Kristin, for remembering Bev and her part in the CGH family. Bev was a true caring professional.

You can read the obituary in today's Post-Standard.