Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dr. Smith goes to Community

This morning I was meeting with Dr. David Smith, President of Upstate Medical University. He asked if we could spend a few minutes walking around Community General Hospital, just to see the facility and to meet people.

It was a great suggestion.

On our impromptu walk Dr. Smith had the opportunity to meet and speak with perhaps 80 or 90 people.

He thanked everyone for the work they do and said our work at Community will continue to be important after we join with Upstate.

Dr. Smith commented several times about the good care a member of his family received at Community during a hospitalization two years ago. He spoke about Upstate's teaching mission, about changes in the medical staff bylaws to support the ongoing private practice of medicine here, and about respecting Community's identity within the Upstate system.

There were a number of questions, mostly about jobs but also about the mission of the hospital.

Dr. Smith said that different employment models are under consideration, and he acknowledged the concerns of employees, saying Upstate is working to address the concerns.

One nurse observed that Upstate must be interested in Community's available square footage. Dr. Smith said, "We're interested in the workers. What you do is important. We're interested in keeping 1,100 jobs and in continuing the high quality care you are known for."

Since his walk-through, several employees told me they were impressed with Dr. Smith's friendliness and his uplifting words.

There have been several questions about Upstate's organization, specifically how does Dr. Smith relate to Dr. John McCabe? Many employees have met Dr. McCabe in my employee meetings last year.

Upstate Medical University (UMU) is a large organization, a university, not just a hospital. Part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, UMU has four colleges, plus University Hospital.

Dr. Smith is the President of SUNY UMU, the entire university. Dr. McCabe is the head of University Hospital. Dr. McCabe's official title is CEO at Upstate University Hospital and Senior Vice President of Hospital Affairs at Upstate Medical University.

Last week, when I met with the Auxiliary to Community General Hospital, one of the Auxiliary board members told me of the time she met Dr. Smith. It was several years ago when he was President of Texas Tech University. She saw him throw out the puck at a hockey game and asked him where he learned to skate. Dr. Smith told her he spent his early childhood in Toronto and learned to skate there. Later, as a student at Cornell University, he was a member of its hockey team.

Dr. Smith is a man of accomplishment. A pediatrician, he is also an avid outdoorsman. And he is a past Commissioner of Health for the State of Texas.

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