From WHYY: Sussex coronavirus outbreak did not give new Beebe CEO time to ease into job

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When starting a new job, it’s nice to be able to ease into your surroundings and take time to get to know the people and work culture. But that didn’t happen for Dr. David Tam.

He was originally slated to take the top job at Delaware’s Beebe Healthcare in April after working as COO at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Instead, as the coronavirus outbreak started spreading in the First State, Tam began his new role as president and CEO on March 16 — just a few days after Gov. John Carney announced a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order for non-essential workers.

Tam spent 24 years in the Navy, in part working as the chief operating officer for the western region of Tricare, the military’s health insurance program. He says that military background helped prepare him for the unknowns that would come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking over in a time of crisis has helped him connect more quickly to others in the community and local elected officials than he might have during more normal times. He recalled getting a phone call from U.S. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, asking what equipment or other help Beebe needed.

“At the end of it, he asked me, ‘So why’d you move from Santa Monica California to Lewes, Delaware?’ And my answer was, ‘Sen. Coons, because I would never, ever imagine I would have this kind of conversation with a U.S. senator asking about what we need.”

Tam praised the staff at Beebe for managing the crisis well.

“The organization here had already a great leadership team and the people have been incredible, so it has not been anything to fix, but what to add on to.”

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Delaware hospital leader’s quick coronavirus learning curve

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