Page 7 - BusinessWest September 1, 2021
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Indeed, he would soon lose the word ‘interim’ from his business card — only he never actu- ally had any in the CFO role, to the best of his recollection — not only from that title, but
from the one he would be given roughly a year ago — president and CEO, succeeding Marion McGowan, who would become executive vice president and chief operating officer at Baystate Health, which owns Health New England.
After roughly 20 years of taking on year-long
“One size is not going to fit all. And for the 360 of our 380 employees who have been remote for the past year and a half, it’s been an almost seamless process. So given the fact that it’s been successful, it makes it hard to say ‘you have to come back, because it hasn’t been successful and that’s the only way to make it work.’”
assignments as president of Medwise Partners and flying home every weekend from wherever he was stationed to his home in Arizona, he was planting roots; he even bought one of the Classi- cal High Condominiums. When asked why, and why at Health New England, he said, “this was the right opportunity at the right place at the right time.”
It’s certainly been a whirlwind 18 months for Swift, whose tenure has, indeed, been dominated
by the pandemic in every way imaginable, from its impact on Health New England and all health plans, to how and where the 380 employees at the company get work done, to the company’s work within the community and how it has changed in some ways but not in any of the ones that matter.
In a wide-ranging interview from his office at Monarch — he’s been there for several months now, usually without much company — Swift
talked about all of the above. And in so doing, he provided some keen insight into what it’s been like to manage during a period unlike anything that a business manager has seen before.
“We need to be sensitive to our diverse workforce and their diverse and different needs,” he said, while summing up the chal- lenge of leading at this time. “As a leader, I need to be sensitive to these varying needs, and I need to make sure the organization is sensitive to them. One of the things this experience has taught me is the need to be adaptable — both personally, for myself, and the organization and everyone within it — and accessible.”
As for the pandemic and health plans like Health New England, he said COVID and the changes resulting from it have brought chal-
lenges in many shapes and sizes, including to the bottom line. Indeed, while 2020 saw insurers facing far fewer claims than would be considered normal, and most eventually issuing rebates to members, 2021 has seen a surge in claims, with many health plans posting losses in the second quarter.
Swift said Health New England posted losses in that quarter as well (specific numbers were
not available), but it has been able to avoid lay- offs and cutbacks while actually increasing its involvement in the community, financially and otherwise (more on that later).
As for where and how people work, Swift said the pandemic gave him a first-hand look at how effective employees can be when working from their home office or dining-room table.
And he is using that experience as he goes about setting policy for the company. Above all else, he said he’s learned that managers must be practical and flexible in such matters.
“One size is not going to fit all,” he noted. “And for the 360 of our 380 employees who have been remote for the past year and a half, it’s been an almost seamless process. So given the fact that it’s been successful, it makes it hard to say ‘you have to come back, because it hasn’t been suc- cessful and that’s the only way to make it work.’”
Assignment Desk
As he talked about his lengthy tenure as a consultant to a number of different health plans and life as an ‘interim,’ Swift said he thoroughly enjoyed what he considered a ‘niche,’ and a suc- cessful one at that.
“For me, it was fun to parachute in some- where and learn new people, new things, and new places; I liked to travel — it was fun to go back and forth,” he told BusinessWest, adding that his various gigs took him to all corners of the country and for assignments — usually as CFO but also CEO and COO — that varied with the health plan in question.
“Sometimes they were eight months long, sometimes they were for a couple of years,” he explained. “In some cases, people left suddenly;
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