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Editorial: Change at the top for BFMC

We don’t know if six years is considered a long time to be the chief executive operator for a hospital, let alone a community hospital like Baystate Franklin Medical Center. Like so many jobs, there are all sorts of factors that come into play, both internally and externally, that can impact the job and the individual holding it.

During the years since 2008, when Chuck Gijanto took over BFMC (and, for the past three years, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware), he, Baystate and its surrounding communities have been in the thick of the changing health care landscape.

In a perfect world, a hospital would have to only pay attention to its core mission: that of providing medical care and treatment to people in need. This can be something physical, such as a broken bone or an infection, the screening and diagnostic tests used in preventative medicine or psychiatric help. A hospital handles both routine and extraordinary cases, both in-house or as the first stop to another hospital with a more specialized focus.

Yet we know that 2014 is far from a perfect world for health care. Always in the background, even for a not-for-profit health care provider such as of Baystate Health, are the hard numbers of the money necessary for running a hospital.

That’s been the challenge since before Gijanto walked in the door.

Since taking the helm, he has had to keep one eye on managing the care and services that the hospital provides while the other one has watched the economic factors. That includes changes in state and federal reimbursement, contract costs and fluctuations in patient population.

He did this — not just behind the desk in some office — but also as a member of the community.

As he wrote in a My Turn column on this page two years ago, “As president of the hospital, my job is to ensure that we have the depth and breadth of services required to meet the health-care needs of our entire community. All service starts with people, and paying the fair wages and benefits needed to recruit and retain talented staff is both the right thing to do and essential to meeting our mission. This includes all employees — from nurses and physicians to housekeepers and engineers, lab techs and registration clerks.

“At the same time, we need to keep pace with technology and update our facilities so that they are comfortable for, and accessible to, our patients and their families. And we need to make sure the quality and safety of any service we provide is top notch, while at the same time containing costs to ensure the hospital’s long-term viability. In short, our work is to keep it all in balance for the benefit of our community, patients and staff.”

The public and other interested parties can argue whether that balance has been kept under Gijanto’s guidance.

Given what we’ve seen taking place in health care, including this week’s announcement that Northern Berkshire Healthcare will be closing after 129 years — thus forcing local patients to make the 20-plus mile trek to the nearest hospital in Pittsfield, we’d say Gijanto has done a good job in helping navigate BFMC through turbulent waters.

We wish him well in his next venture.

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