Retiring Passama posing at his desk

Longtime CEO Announces Retirement

After 35 years at the helm of Solano County's only independent nonprofit health system, NorthBay Healthcare President/CEO Gary Passama announced he would retire at the end of March 2017.

“These have been the best 35 years of my life,” he told members of his Board of Directors and employees in a personal email in late August.

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 2,600 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 health care 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.”

Within a month of his announcement, the Board of Directors selected Konard Jones, head of the Hospital Division, to be Passama's successor.

A proud graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Passama will remain a consultant to NorthBay. 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,” 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.”

Several major accomplishments took place in 2016, highlighted by the local health system becoming a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. This collaboration gives NorthBay Healthcare specialists the ability to consult the most trusted health care experts in the world on complex cases.

The $58 million VacaValley Wellness Center opened and includes a state-of-the-art NorthBay Cancer Center and NorthBay HealthSpring Fitness, the county's first medical fitness center.

On the NorthBay Medical Center campus in Fairfield a new visitor pavilion and lobby opened. It 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 with 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
  • NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center with open-heart surgery capability

Passama has been active in local organizations for more than three decades, serving the Solano Community College Foundation board of directors and serving as Chairman of the Board of the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.