Gary J. Passama, President and Chief Executive Officer of NorthBay Healthcare System since 1987, is a 39-year veteran of health care in Northern California. 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

Three Ways to Skin Health Reform

Published: February 23, 2010

So we have three competing visions for health "reform" -- one by the House of Representatives, one by the Senate and now one by President Obama.

Here's what they comprise, at a glance:

* Each would increase taxes (each gores a different bull in a different way);

* All expand insurance coverage (as a health system CEO, this sounds good, but as someone who currently chairs Vacaville Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors, I fear the impact on small, struggling businesses, which will have higher employee costs); and

* Each tries to clamp down on what some perceive as outrageous premium increases by health plans. (NorthBay tussles with health plans all the time, so we know their proclivities.)

When Your EMR Won't Communicate

Published: February 19, 2010

An Electronic Medical Record or EMR undeniably improves patient care. It creates a uniform system of storing patient information and it makes it easy to share with physicians within a practice.

I recently experienced what happens when an EMR does not exist, or it cannot "talk" to all the doctors and staff involved in a patient's care.

Checkout Line Encounter Proves Positive

Published: February 16, 2010

An interesting experience recently at Raley's in Fairfield occurred as I waited in line at the checkstand and a woman approached me saying, "Mr. Passama, I was going to write you a letter, but since you are here ..."

 When I hear that kind of salutation, it's usually followed by something good about NorthBay or something bad. Those in line who were reading National Enquirer (including me) turned to listen in. I have no idea how the woman knew who I was. She proceeded to thank me in front of all the "Enquirering minds" for drive-through flu vaccination clinics NorthBay recently conducted. She said she tried, but failed, to get a flu shot for herself and her family from her medical group.

Further Thoughts on Healthcare Reform

Published: February 12, 2010

Let's build a strong foundation for health care by making certain we have adequate resources to handle the great demand if suddenly 50 million more people have insurance.

We will need more primary care physicians to care for these people. But the nation simply is not producing enough of this kind of physician.

Did the Reform Balloon Burst?

Published: February 8, 2010

The balloon that was health care reform - I'm tempted to say the hot air balloon - seems to be deflating. And that gives me cause to pause because I have mixed feelings about it.

NorthBay sees more than its share of uninsured patients. In the best of all worlds, all patients would have some kind of insurance. So I was hopeful new innovative ideas would emerge from the legislative process in Washington.