Sanford’s new president and CEO Bill Gassen says the organization’s tremendous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has left him hopeful for all that is to come in the new year. A new vaccine is just around the corner too, but Gassen cautions there is still more work ahead.
Gassen joined Sanford Health News for a sit-down interview just a few days into his new role.
“We are — by no means — done. This is certainly not a mission accomplished moment yet, but it’s incredible to see the speed at which the industry has been able to create a vaccine,” Gassen said. “Within my team, we’re going to lean heavy on those clinical experts and leaders. We’re going to listen to them carefully.”
Plans for distributing the coronavirus vaccine are underway and the hope is to provide the vaccine to front-line caregivers and the most vulnerable population by the end of the year.
Gassen reminds us the marathon isn’t over yet.
“Now’s the time when we need to do everything necessary to protect our people,” Gassen said. “We need to make sure our caregivers have what they need. We need to make sure we’re listening very closely to them. If they have needs that are unmet right now, if they feel like they aren’t supported, they feel like they don’t have adequate equipment, then we need to make sure we do everything we can to meet those needs.
“That’s where my focus is going to be, between now and when we get those vaccines out to the general population.”
Beyond the pandemic
Gassen’s top priorities include a razor sharp focus on the Sanford workforce, patients and communities.
“That’s what the focus of this organization is going to be while I’m privileged to serve in this role,” Gassen said. “I think that if we execute well on those areas, and in everything we do, we stay focused on our patients, our people in the communities that we serve, we’re going to do extremely well.”
To the more than 50,000 people who make up both Sanford Health and The Good Samaritan Society, Gassen said, “we’re hearing you.”
To the thousands of patients and families who entrust Sanford Health with their care, he said “thank you.”
To the communities in which Sanford Health serves, keeping them strong as a community-based not-for-profit is “not just an option, but our responsibility.”
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