Kaleida CEO steps down, more layoffs expected

The largest health care provider in Western New York is making some big changes, starting right at the top. But at some point in the future, officials say there will be layoffs.

Kaleida Health and Great Lakes Health Systems President and CEO James Kaskie has stepped down from his leadership position in both organizations.

John Koelmel, Chairman of the Kaleida Health board of directors, announced Friday that the hospital group will move in a new direction. CEO of Erie County Medical Center Jody Lomeo, who is also vice chair of Great Lakes Health Systems, has been named interim CEO of both Kaleida Health and Great Lakes while continuing his role at ECMC.

“Simply put, this is about being the best,” Koelmel said. “I evaluate where we are as a function of where we’re going. So this is about looking at where we need to be as I look ahead.”

Robert Gioia, chairman of the Great lakes Health Board, says the number of patients coming through the doors is down drastically as demographics around Western New York change.

“Change is not easy. Change needs to happen in order for us to progress. We need to respect the past and we need to embrace the future,” he said.

This move affects around 13,000 employees and five hospitals. Since December, officials say around 100 jobs have been cut, systemwide, which is around one percent of the total workforce.

But officials insist that the cuts are not layoffs because employees have the ability to move to different jobs within Kaleida. Koelmel says layoffs in the future are a reality.

“Staffing levels that you need to support lower volume necessarily need to be reduced,” he said.

Leaders deny that the health network’s finances played a part in Kaskie’s resignation. But system administrators admit, finances are among their concerns.

“The business model needs to change. So we need to rightsize the institution,” Koelmel said.

News 4 heard reports that Kaskie didn’t want to leave. He had been with Kaleida for 10 years and was named president and CEO in 2006, and CEO of Great Lakes Health in 2007. He helped open the new Gates Vascular Institute building, among other things.

Koelmel says that right now, there is no search for a permanent CEO of Kaleida, and the new business model may mean the health system does not have one. He says “rightsizing the institution” will come in the form of collaboration between ECMC and Kaleida.

“We need to continue to do more and we need to continue to drive cost out of the system,” he said.

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