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

Pity the Dinosaur

The patients have spoken. And they are giving NorthBay Healthcare's medical group the highest possible rating in the annual survey conducted by the California Office of the Patient Advocate survey.


Fight On!

The staff of NorthBay Healthcare's Information Technology Department gathered recently in our Green Valley Administration Center for a sendoff for Paul Alcala, chief information officer. It was a touching occasion for Paul's staff, for me and for the other senior managers.


Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Late last week NorthBay's Chief Financial Officer and I trekked to San Francisco to meet with Standard and Poor's (S&P) to confer on our credit rating. Joining us in support were representatives of our financial advisors and two investment banking firms which market bonds we use to finance new building projects.

The visit to S&P is something we do every year, and sometimes more often if we are planning to issue bonds to pay for new facilities. Our goal is to maintain our investment grade rating so we pay less in interest costs.


The Director's Question

We spent some time last week learning how it would be if Disney ran our two hospitals and medical group.

Well, that's not quite how it went. In fact, more than 100 NorthBay Healthcare managers, board members and NorthBay-affiliated physicians listened to Fred Lee, author of "If Disney Ran Your Hospital," cover some highlights from his best-selling book.


DÉJÀ VU -- Again and Again

One of the things which took the steam out of the development of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the 1990s was the fact that many had so-called "narrow networks" of providers. The aim was to better control costs and help plan members maintain their health.

Many people who found they had an HMO for a health plan became very vocal about not being able to go to the doctor or hospital of their choice. The physician or the hospital was not included in the plan's network.



Proposition 46, a topic of a previous post on this blog, would undo the medical tort reforms passed in California in 1975 which subsequently have become a model for the nation. A group of trial attorneys are attempting to undo these reforms with the November ballot measure. If successful, healthcare costs would increase and access to physicians would be more difficult.


An Apple a Day

I really am too old to be an iPhone fan boy, but that is what I am. Each time Apple introduces a new bit of technological magic I briefly resist the impulse to buy it before inevitably succumbing. It is a bad disease which has now spread to my wife. No more handing down my old Apple stuff to her; she wants her own new gadget as soon as available.

So with great anticipation I awaited arrival of my new iPhone 6. It's larger than the 5s it replaces, but not as large as the iPhone 6 Plus, which my wife has on order. The iPhone 6 Plus is really big and fits perfectly in a purse - if it is the size of a suitcase.


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.


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.


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.