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Bassett Healthcare is named in honor of a physician who devoted herself generously for many years to the sick and unfortunate of Cooperstown and the surrounding region. The hospital's first Physician-in-Chief, Dr. Mary Imogene Bassett died in 1922, but is still remembered as a wise and skillful physician and a devoted and unselfish friend.
The Bassett Healthcare Network is an integrated health care system that provides care and services to people living in an eight county region covering 5,600 square miles in upstate New York. The organization includes six corporately affiliated hospitals, as well as skilled nursing facilities, health centers and health partners in related fields.
Bassett Medical Center, the foundation of the network, is an acute care inpatient facility in Cooperstown, New York with missions of patient care, teaching and research. Providing a wide range of specialty care, the medical center offers postgraduate residency training programs in Medicine and Surgery and maintains a strong academic program through its affiliation with Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, an affiliation recently highlighted by the establishment of a Columbia medical school campus at Bassett.
Early Beginnings: Early physician leadership established The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital (now Bassett Medical Center) as a premier rural teaching hospital in the late 1920s. A group practice model, currently known as the Bassett Physician Group, was established in 1934, and a formal affiliation was established with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1947. In 2009, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Bassett strengthened their historic affiliation by establishing an innovative medical school program designed to address the severe shortage of rural physicians and train a new generation of doctors capable of leading health systems that promote both quality of practice and cost-effective delivery of care.
In 1970, the Carnegie Commission called for drastic improvement in the quality of U.S. rural medicine and pinpointed on existing hospital as the ideal prototype – Bassett. One year later, Time magazine featured Bassett as a model of rural health care delivery.
“Every statistic shows that rural medicine lags far behind what is available in urban areas…But Cooperstown… is a remarkable exception. Reason: it has The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, a mini-medical center that ranks among the best in the U.S.”
Time, January 25, 1971
And in 2009, in an era of health reform, Bassett Hospital was featured in The New York Times as a model of success for its integrated coordination of health care for patients and for its salaried physician model.
“Medical costs at Bassett are lower than those at 90 percent of the hospitals in New York, while the quality of care ranks among the top 10 percent in the nation, surveys show.”
The New York Times, July 25, 2009
Bassett Today: Since the 1920s, Bassett's primary care network has expanded to more than two dozen health centers with a variety of practitioners. These providers began offering the area's first health maintenance program, Community Health Plan of Bassett, in 1986. In Cooperstown, the Bassett Clinic opened its doors in 1992, providing a spacious and inviting primary and specialty care center for the region. The Louis Busch Hager Cancer Center is located within the Bassett Clinic.
Bassett continues to welcome affiliations with a number of medical, nursing and allied health programs and schools, all of which help attract practitioners to this rural region. In the 1990s, the Research Institute, under the direction of Dr. Thomas Pearson, continued its studies, presenting at medical conferences around the world and regularly making news headlines.
Today the cupola light continues to burn in Dr. Bassett's memory and the missions of patient care, research and education remain unchanged. The visionary goals of Bassett's former leaders, educators, researchers, physicians, employees and volunteers continue to guide the organization through growth and change.
Just as generations of patients and families have passed through Bassett's front doors, so have generations of dedicated employees, health care professionals and other supporters whose compassion and caring will long be remembered. These individuals have always been the heart and soul of Bassett and will continue to distinguish Bassett as a health care tradition for many generations to come.