Longtime NorthBay Healthcare President/CEO to Retire
After 35 years at the helm of Solano County’s only independent non-profit health system, Gary Passama will retire from NorthBay Healthcare at the end of March next year.
“These have been the best 35 years of my life,” he told members of his Board of Directors and employees in a personal email today (Friday morning, Aug. 19).”
In 1981 he arrived to serve as CEO of what was then Intercommunity Hospital, now NorthBay Medical Center, in Fairfield. As the locally managed healthcare organization grew, Passama’s role burgeoned. Six years later, the one-hospital operation would become NorthBay Healthcare, which would grow over time to comprise two hospitals, four campuses, a medical group of 100 physicians and providers, a workforce of 2,500 employees, a philanthropic foundation and an array of advanced medical services, from trauma to neuroscience.
“He came on board with marching orders to steadily advance medicine close to home, to make this one of the best community-based, independent healthcare providers in the country,” explained Ben Huber, chairman of the Board of Directors who has worked with Passama for 29 years. “And he’s done just that.”
The Board of Directors has a process under way to select the new president and CEO.
“Gary has been insistent that the transition to his successor be smooth and successful,” noted Huber. “He has provided us plenty of time to find and work together with the next CEO. That is why his announcement comes six months before his final day on the job.”
Passama, a proud product of the University of California, Berkeley, will relinquish his role on March 31 next year but will remain a consultant for a period of time. He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in business administration and a master’s degree in Public Health in hospital administration from UC Berkeley in 1970 and 1972, respectively.
“It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve our community with my colleagues here,” Passama said. “During my tenure I have had the privilege to work alongside countless individuals who always put our patients first, who are dedicated to bring compassionate care, advanced medicine, close to home.”
He added, “NorthBay Healthcare is in a good place, fiscally strong and well positioned to not only tackle the challenges ahead, but focus on innovative ways to help people get healthy and stay healthy.”
This year, the local health system became a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a collaboration that gives its patients access to the most trusted health care experts in the world. NorthBay Healthcare specialists now consult with Mayo Clinic specialists, researchers and scientists on complex cases.
A major $58 million addition to the campus of NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville is nearly complete. The 110,000-square-foot VacaValley Wellness Center will house the state-of-the-art NorthBay Cancer Center, which is being relocated from the Fairfield hospital campus, along with HealthSpring, a medical fitness center that opened in the building last month.
On the NorthBay Medical Center campus in Fairfield work continues on a new visitor pavilion and lobby, which will be followed by an expansion of the county’s busiest emergency department. It is part of a $200 million modernization project that includes a three-story addition to house surgery suites, 24 “patient rooms of the future” and a new cafeteria and nutrition services.
During Passama’s administration, Vacaville’s first hospital, NorthBay VacaValley Hospital, was built, mustering community support to finance it. Other milestones include these “firsts” for the communities in Solano County:
- NorthBay Neonatal Intensive Care Unit;
- NorthBay Cancer Center;
- NorthBay Level II Trauma Center;
- NorthBay Center for Neuroscience, with neurosurgery and spine surgery; and
- NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center with open-heart surgery capability.
Passama has been active in local organizations for more than three decades, serving on Solano Community College Foundation board of directors and serving as Chairman of the Board of the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.
He currently serves on the boards of directors of Western Health Advantage Health Plan, California Healthcare Insurance Company and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. He has been on the faculty and a speaker for programs sponsored by the American Hospital Association, Hospital Council of Northern California and the Medical Group Management Association.
Passama is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has served on the California Hospital Association Board of Directors, among many other organizations. He and his wife, Judy, a retired science and English teacher at Green Valley Middle School, plan to remain residents of Fairfield. They have two sons, one a school teacher and the other a police officer, who reside in Solano County as well.