Bassett Medical Center head named top medical advisor for New York Army National Guard

Lt. Col. William LeCates will serve as New York Army National Guard State Surgeon beginning Jan. 1, 2020

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LATHAM, NY (12/30/2019) Dr. William LeCates, a Cooperstown resident and president of Bassett Medical Center, the 180-bed teaching hospital in Cooperstown, has been selected to serve as the New York Army National Guard's top medical advisor.

LeCates, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, will serve as the New York Army National Guard State Surgeon.

As New York Army National Guard State Surgeon LeCates will be the senior medical advisor to Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York. He will oversee the Army National Guard medical practicioners and the medical readiness of National Guard Soldiers and ensure that Department of Defense, New York state, and national medical standards are adhered to."

He officially takes over the job on Jan. 1, 2020, replacing Col. Mathew Liepke.

LeCates is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, having deployed there twice. He also deployed to Liberia in 2015 to help combat tropical and infectious diseases, which included an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

LeCates has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal and the Flight Surgeon Badge.

"I'm looking forward to working with Soldiers across the state," LeCates said. "It gives me a chance to get know areas of the New York Army National Guard that I haven't gotten to know well. I see their great work and now I can finally meet the people who are doing it."

LeCates is a nephrologist, a specialist in kidney diseases and hypertension, who studied at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for ten years, which included a residency and fellowship.

He is also a graduate of Amherst College and worked as an assistant economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before studying medicine.

After graduating, he returned to Cooperstown as a practicing doctor, specializing in internal medicine with a focus on kidney disease.

He joined the New York National Guard in 2009. It was something he'd always wanted to do, LeCates said.

"Joining the Guard allowed my wife and children to have a home here and me the opportunity of military service without asking them to move around the country," LeCates said. "It's something that the Guard does that is more difficult to find in an active duty assignment, it was important for me that my wife and kids had a home here in Cooperstown."

Being a medical profession in the Guard is "sometimes an overlooked opportunity," LeCates said.

He explained that it has given him a great deal of medical training that his civilian profession would not have been able to provide.

LeCates credited military leaders and medical professionals in the New York Army National Guard's Medical Command for mentoring him and setting him up to be successful as the New York Army National Guard's state surgeon.

LeCates, who previously served as the New York Army National Guard's chief aviation medical officer, will work with more than 100 other medical professionals assigned to the New York Army National Guard Medical Command, and other units.

LeCates will do all this while still serving as president of Bassett Medical Center. He has been associated with the medical center since 2003 and also served as medical director and vice president of medical affairs.

"Bassett Medical Center has been really, really good to me in terms of supporting military service," LeCates said. "They support others that serve, we have a doctor that's deployed with the Navy right now. It's nice for our community to know that this organization supports people that are willing to take on military service."

His commitments to his civilian employer and the New York Army National Guard, compliment and benefit each other, LeCates explained.

"I found that the military training has been a great help to me in my civilian work," LeCates said. "Also, my civilian leadership work here at Bassett in working on health policy and health administration, it's been a big help to me in my military work."

The goal LeCates explained, will be doing the best work he can to support all of the medical professionals of the New York Army National Guard, and working to ensure medical readiness across the state for all of New York's Guardsmen.

"I think anyone who joins the New York National Guard should have an opportunity for good health and for wellness," LeCates said. "Health and wellness leads to readiness for military duty, it leads to the Guard being able to respond when needed."