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April 3, 2014

Bassett to replace longtime president

By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Dr. Vance M. Brown, a native of Maine, will take over as president and chief executive officer of the Bassett Healthcare Network and Bassett Medical Center this summer, as was announced Thursday by the chairman of the Bassett trustees.

Brown, 56, said he is “extremely pleased” and “humbled” to take the helm of what he called “a fantastic organization.”

“I am very, very happy,” Brown added. “And I look forward to continuing to provide access to high-quality care for the community in a cost-effective fashion. Whatever I can do to help the organization continue in its current direction, I will.”

Brown will replace Dr. William Streck who, after more than 30 years at Bassett, announced his retirement last year. His are big shoes to fill, said Dr. Thomas Q. Morris, the chairman of the Bassett trustees.

“Finding a successor to Dr. Streck, whose vision and leadership have shaped the growth and development of Bassett for the past 30 years, was not easy,” Morris said in a statement. “However, we believe we have found a strong leader who can further advance Bassett’s mission of providing high quality care in a challenging health care environment. We are delighted that Dr. Brown will be joining the organization.”

Brown said he will proceed as Chief Medical Officer at MaineHealth, which he has led since 2008, until the middle of May. MaineHealth is the largest integrated health system in the three northern New England states, according to information provided by Bassett, and has eight member hospitals, three affiliated hospitals and annual revenue of approximately $2 billion. Before working at MaineHealth, Brown served as the chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Brown said it is a privilege to be chosen to lead the Bassett team.

“The organization is highly regarded as a leader in health system integration and in rural health care delivery,” Brown said, “and I look forward to working with the employees, physicians and community to continue building on that reputation and assuring a strong future for the organization.”

Dr. Timothy Pedley, member of the Bassett Board of Trustees, said the hospital enlisted a search firm to help with the national search for Streck’s replacement. Healthcare, he said, is undergoing a challenging, enormous transition and is changing more and more. Higher quality care is expected, but there is much less money available, Pedley said. The ideal candidate for Bassett president and CEO would be familiar with these changes and challenges, he said, and have a thorough understanding of the healthcare system and of Bassett in particular.

Despite the changes in healthcare, Pedley said, Bassett is in an “enviable position,” having already done what many other hospitals are struggling to do: shift to an integrated healthcare system model. Bassett’s integrated system includes five affiliated hospitals and numerous outpatient centers.

“This was very attractive to candidates,” Pedley said. “Most of them would rather come into this kind of a position than start from scratch.”

Brown was the candidate who came out on top, Pedley said, after making it past three rounds of interviews.

“He was the most impressive in terms of knowing about the environment facing medicine today,” Pedley said. “He has experience and he has an impressive record. He learned rapidly about Bassett and already has identified solutions to future challenges he may be faced with … He was the best candidate in terms of previous experience, knowledge and priorities.”

As president and CEO of Bassett, Pedley said, Brown will be in charge of setting the direction that the institution will take in the coming years and will develop a game plan of how to get there. He will have to take into account challenges and come up with solutions, as any CEO would, he said.

Brown, who said he will move to Cooperstown with his wife, Lauren, in the beginning of June, said he plans to be a good observer and listener and hopes to learn a thing or two from Streck before he officially takes over in mid-June.

Although it was hard to find someone to fill Streck’s shoes, Pedley said, he believes Brown will be a very effective president and will likely build a legacy of his own, as Streck did.

“If you were a betting person, you could bet on (Brown),” Pedley said. “We believe he will take us where we need to be.”

Pedley added that Bassett has been “extremely fortunate” to have had Streck for 30 years and said Streck will take a “well-earned” sabbatical before deciding what is next for him.

Brown, who said he loves outdoor activities, said he is looking forward to living in the “beautiful” Cooperstown area.