A Toast To The Unsung

Last week marked an end and a beginning for me. That sounds more dramatic, perhaps, than the occasion merits but sometimes you have to let your inner drama king out to breathe.

NorthBay Healthcare hosted a special night for supporters to have a preview showing of its new $200 million wing at NorthBay Medical Center which will open for patients next month. This was the last project for which I can claim some responsibility as we began planning it in 2014 and when I retired in 2017 the financing had been secured and the steel was going up.

It’s a beautiful high tech facility full of the latest technological innovations. When we were designing it, we did not want to make compromises which might affect the care we would be delivering. Mission accomplished.

I was recognized at the beginning of the event by my successor who had to ride herd over much of the construction process and now will have to integrate it into the ongoing expenses of the organization. He is more than up to that task.

I felt both sad and also strangely liberated as I contemplated the building. Going forward, whatever happens at NorthBay will not bear any traces of me. Ego aside, a connection is being broken. Time for me to move on.

A special recognition and the focus of the evening was a bequest made to the building by a couple who have long supported NorthBay and other community endeavors. They are unassuming and do not seek recognition for their efforts. Nevertheless, their bequest of $5 million was the largest single gift the organization has ever received and recognition needed to be given.

As the ceremony finished and people began to take tours of the building, it occurred to me that others had an important role in making that building happen. Two NorthBay boards had to give approval for the financing and construction. Their trust in and support of management was not acknowledged. I did so later that evening in notes I wrote to each of them. Board members seldom get recognition for the tremendous burdens they carry.

There were three people who were instrumental to the project but were also not recognized that evening. NorthBay’s CFO who passed away unexpectedly last December built relations over a long period of time with financing entities. Their trust in him led to more buyers for NorthBay’s bonds than we had to sell. Thank you, Art.

Similarly, the Vice President and Assistant Vice President responsible for facility development brought the project in on time and under budget. They had to deal with the rest of us, our ideas, complaints and often uninformed opinions. They deserved recognition of the highest sort. I wrote them notes as well.

Which brings me to the real point of this entry. Positive recognition is so important to the people who make up an organization. It seldom is provided in sufficient quanity and yet it is always welcomed by its recipients.

We had at NorthBay an annual employee recognition dinner for employees who attain certain levels of tenure. We would have slide shows about each of them for dinner attendees to see. Then the employee would be asked to come to the front of the room to receive their award from me and have a photo taken with the board chair. Their families would be present to watch.

I often would get hugged by the recognized employee, no doubt breaking several federal and state employment laws in the process. I would always whisper to every award winner my personal appreciation for their dedication. Those moments were special, an opportunity for me to give a toast to the unsung. For that moment, they were the most important person in the room and their families could see that.

To my mind, you can never give enough recognition to the people who make an organization successful. That’s particularly true in healthcare where teamwork is necessary. Perceptive physicians and nurses know that their efforts would be for nought without the many other staff members toiling in the background.

So to me, that new wing at NorthBay Medical Center merits a toast to the unsung thousands of staff members who made it possible. Here’s to all of you!

One thought on “A Toast To The Unsung

  1. Thank you Gary. So nice to know that someone appreciates all the hard work that Art, Joelyn and I did to bring this beautiful building to NB on time and under budget!

    Liked by 1 person

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