Lomeo banking on employees to boost Kaleida

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It has been two weeks since Jody Lomeo became interim CEO at Kaleida Health, replacing James Kaskie. He is facing many of the same challenges he confronted when he became the CEO at ECMC, and Lomeo says Kaleida must turn itself around.

Losses last year are expected to be in the millions of dollars. But Lomeo says he is not coming into the organization with an axe to cut jobs and services. Instead, he hopes to build trust among Kaleida employees and management.

“We need an engaged workforce. We need them to feel valued. We need them to be empowered, to make decisions, to deliver the product the best way that they know how, and they know how,” Lomeo said.

An engaged workforce is what is first apparent when you go behind the scenes at ECMC. The nurses were Lomeo’s first concern when he took over leadership at ECMC in 2008. They told him management wasn’t listening to them, so he changed that.

ECMC Nursing Senior Vice President, “The nurses really advocate for their patients and when we say that we need something or that the patient needs something, to have that support behind you with management is wonderful.”

Union leaders for Kaleida workers have met with Lomeo twice and are encouraged.

CWA Area Director Debora Hayes said, “He said to us that this is a new day. He told us that the turnaround at Kaleida was going to be led by the bedside, which was significant for us to hear because we feel very firmly that we are all there for our patients.”

At ECMC, Lomeo also hired patient advocates.

Kidney transplant patient Gertrude Hervey said, “Some places they just put you there and, you know,  you are just part of the process, but it seems like a family type thing. They’re there to help you.”

“We’re in the customer service business. This is a relationship business. My thought has always been from day one here at ECMC, we need the patient experience to be first and foremost,” Lomeo said.

His management philosophy seems to be good for business. Emergency room visits are up eight percent over the last four years with a six percent increase in surgeries at ECMC. He believes he can help Kaleida grow, too.

He said, “I’m betting on the employees. I’m betting on 10,000 people. I’m a believer. I also know it works, because I’ve lived through it.”

Under Lomeo, $200 million in improvements have been made to the ECMC campus.

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