Page 8 - BusinessWest September 1, 2021
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in other cases, it wasn’t suddenly, but they real- ized that they didn’t necessarily have the suc- cessor they thought they had, or they knew they didn’t have one and were going into a search process.
“Sometimes they were successful, strong health plans that just needed some expertise, and some of them were turn-arounds,” he went on. “What I brought to the table was that experience of running that business.”
Health New England was looking to tap into that experience early in 2020 when its CFO announced his retirement and a search for a suc- cessor had commenced. As noted earlier, Health New England was going to be another one of those interim assignments.
But things didn’t go according to script, start- ing with day one — or actually, even before day one.
Indeed, Swift was scheduled to start in April
of 2020. COVID, as we all know, made its arrival
in the 413 in mid-March, abruptly changing the landscape for the company and its new CFO (he quickly lost the interim tag), who wouldn’t have to get on a plane to take on his latest assignment.
He recalls that leadership at the company was going to use March 13, 2020, a Friday, as an experiment to see how effectively people worked remotely. That experiment went so well, and COVID invaded so suddenly, that workers never came back. In his case, he never arrived.
“I remember that conversation about ‘we’ll just send you a computer and you’ll work remotely,’ and how stunned I was at the time,” he recalled. “Because in 20 years of interim work, I pretty much got on a plane every week and flew out
to my client. I was in my office in whatever city
it was, on site. So the notion of doing all this remotely ... it took me a while to wrap my head around it.”
While making these adjustments, Swift would soon have to make some others as well.
Indeed, in June, as McGowan was assum- ing some duties at Baystate while still serving
as president and CEO at Health New England, Swift picked up some additional responsibilities for the company. And in October of last year, as McGowan moved to Baystate full time, he was asked to become CEO — again,
without the ‘interim’ before the
When asked what he saw in Health New England that made him accept a permanent position — he had declined a few offers
of that type in the past — he said
it was a combination of things, including the team that was in place at Health New England and the opportunities he saw to partner with Baystate in meaningful ways.
“When I looked at what was
going on here, and at the opportunities that Baystate has with Health New England and that Health New England has with Baystate, I realized that there is so much that we can do together in the Western Massachusetts market,” he said. “And I was really excited by those possibilities.”
By the Numbers
Looking back on his first 18 months with the company — and ahead to what might come next — Swift said this has obviously been a different and very challenging time for Health New Eng-
land, and all health plans.
And the pandemic is just one reason why,
albeit a big reason. At first, it contributed to a steep decline in claims because people were not visiting the doctor or seeking help even if they needed it. And then, it prompted a huge surge as people went back to the doctor and the emer- gency room, often with conditions made more serious by not seeking care through most of 2020. Meanwhile, treating COVID itself has often required lengthy and very expensive hospital
“When I looked at what was going on here, and at the opportunities that Baystate has with Health New England and that Health New England has with Baystate, I realized that there is so much that we can do together in the Western Massachusetts market.”
“We’re certainly seeing more members having
more claims and more services, and more-costly services than we did in 2019,” he said, adding that all this certainly contributed to the company’s second-quarter losses.
But mostly, the pandemic has created uncer- tainty and even greater difficulty forecasting into the future, which creates problems for health plans, Swift noted.
“We set rates well in advance based on what we think our costs are going to be, and we don’t
Setting the Standard in Patient Care.
We know how great our team is at Holyoke Medical Center.
But it’s good to know that experts in our industry think they’re outstanding, too.
             2020 Leapfrog Group Top Hospital Award
2020 BusinessWest and Healthcare News Healthcare Heroes Award
2020 Huron/ Studer Group What’s Right in Healthcare Award
Decades of Superior Stroke Care Recognized by American Heart/ Stroke Assoc.
Let Life Bloom Platinum Award for Promoting Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation
 Find Out Why HMC is a Great Place to Work!
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Every Wednesday 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
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