Gary J. Passama, President and Chief Executive Officer of NorthBay Healthcare System since 1981, is a veteran of more than 40 years in Northern California health care. He has served as faculty and speaker for programs of the American Hospital Association, Hospital Council of Northern California and the Medical Group Management Association. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
From the CEO

100 in 2015

It is budget time again at NorthBay Healthcare. It's a toss-up as to what experience I detest more - budgeting or a trip to the dentist. At least the dentist numbs me before he begins.

NorthBay's budget committee for 2015 comprises me, our chief financial officer and the president of NorthBay Healthcare Group (the organization which runs our two hospitals and affiliated medical group). We have been holding a series of meetings at which each of our vice presidents and the managers of various programs explain their budget requests and answer our questions. We are looking for justifications for new positions and additional dollars requested. These meetings can be grueling.

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Baby Friendly

At NorthBay Healthcare we speak often of our "keynote" services. They make us different from the rest.

Such services usually require meeting special and very stringent requirements. Examples include our Level II trauma verification by the American College of Surgeons and our Chest Pain Center designation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.

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Bad Medicine

My career, in what was then called "hospital administration," began in 1972 at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley during a tumultuous time in health care. It is a tumultuous time now. It is always, it seems, tumultuous when it comes to health care.

A huge issue then was the high cost of professional liability insurance (aka malpractice insurance) for physicians and hospitals. The reason you have not heard much about it in the past 40 years is because of significant reforms which California's governor and Legislature made in 1975. Ours is still a model for the rest of the nation.

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Root Canals and Health Plans

It's that time of the year when public employees who obtain their health insurance through CALPERS must select a plan for next year. Trying to wade through various choices to find one that fits the employee's needs and pocketbook is not easy.

I know. Last week my police officer son asked me to assist him in making a selection.

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The Milky Way Disrupter

I recently attended a special session of the Healthcare Advisory Board dealing with what a healthcare system such as NorthBay Healthcare needs to do to become the network of choice for employers and consumers. Much of the session dealt with how the provision of healthcare is increasingly becoming a retail operation.

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Not Fade Away

In health care we have fads. Or is it trends? Perhaps it is conventional wisdom. Sometimes, I think, it is just unthinking sheep following equally clueless sheep.

An idea takes hold. Then, before you know it, everyone needs to be on board.

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Stupid Roomba, Smart MRI

I love technology, whether it is in my home or on any of NorthBay Healthcare's campuses. However, it is important that technology serve us and not the other way around.

For instance, I recently purchased the newest Roomba model for my home. Roomba is a self-propelled little disk-like object which functions as a robot vacuum cleaner. I decided we need one because try as we might, my wife and I could not keep ahead of our two miniature Schnauzers who are always tracking things into our house with their Velcro-like fur.

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A Passion for Asparagus

Brace yourself, I saw another movie this past weekend about restaurants and food. It was a fitting coda to several other incidents I experienced involving customer service. Or, as I like to call it: Delivering "wow."

The movie, "The Hundred Foot Journey," concerned an Indian family from Mumbai whose restaurant had been destroyed as a result of political turmoil. The patriarch, having seen his wife die in the burning restaurant, decided to take his family on a tour of France to find a new venue. His three adult children and their two younger siblings reluctantly came along.

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Unmatched

As I recently wrote, beware of the various organizations which issue ratings or rankings of hospitals. They usually base their ratings on limited data sets which may not represent a hospital's total patient population, then combine this suspect quantitative information with very soft qualitative measures like "reputation."

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The Beauty Contest

Every year, with great fanfare, a national magazine publishes its rankings of "Best Hospitals" covering a variety of hospital specialties. Sometimes the list of "best" for a particular specialty contains head scratchers, as in, "You have to be kidding."

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