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Kaskie resigns as Kaleida CEO

WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

A major leadership change has been announced at one of the area's largest health providers as Kaleida Health CEO James Kaskie has resigned. WBFO's Eileen Buckley attended a news briefing Friday morning at Kaleida's Gates Vascular Institute in downtown Buffalo.

"This was the result of a unanimous decision by the board of directors of Kaleida that a change in leadership was necessary," said Kaleida board chairman John Koelmel.

Koelmel told reporters Kaskie's strengths did not meet the needs of Kaleida's future.

Opening statements made at a Friday news conference with Kaleida's Board chairman John Koelmel & Robert Gioia, chair of Great Lakes Health System.

Koelmel said the organization is challenged by a change in demographics and must respond with new leadership at Kaleida.

"This isn't a reaction to financial results and outcomes. This is a function of the cumulative body of work over time and, more importantly, our expectations as we look forward as an organization," said Koelmel.

Koelmel praised Kaskie's contributions over the last 10 years and pointed to the Gates Institute, built under Kaskie's leadership.

“During Jim’s 10-year tenure as CEO, Kaleida’s accomplishments have been many, including the opening of the world-class Gates Vascular Institute, the consolidation of Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital with Buffalo General Medical Center, the creation of centers of excellence in collaboration with ECMC, the expansion of Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, the unprecedented growth of the Visiting Nursing Association of WNY, and the tremendous momentum for construction of a new Children’s Hospital. We, and the entire community, owe Jim a significant debt of gratitude," said Koelmel.

Robert Gioia, chair of Great Lakes Health System, an umbrella of Kaleida, noted changes are needed to control costs.

"Change is not easy. Change needs to happen in order for us to progress," said Gioia.

The board leaders insist that ground will be broken in a few short months for a brand new Women and Children's Hospital in downtown Buffalo.

Erie County Medical Center CEO Jody Lomeo will serve as interim CEO at Kaleida while retaining his position at ECMC. No search for a permanent leader has been launched at this time. 

Kaskie did not appear at the news conference and reporters were told he was out of town. Since becoming CEO in 2006, Kaskie played a key role in several major developments at Kaleida, including the plan to build a new Women & Children's Hospital at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

WBFO News obtained a response from one of the unions that represents some of the 10,000 employees within the Kaledia system. 

The CWA Local 1168  issued the following:

"At 7:30 am today, CWA and SEIU leadership were notified that James Kaskie has resigned from Kaleida Health, Great Lakes, and The Greater New York Hospital Association.

It did not come as a surprise to our Local as it was apparent changes needed to be made.  Kaleida will hold a press conference at 12:00 pm today.  Our focus, along with the Executive Board of this Local, will be to represent all of you and our patients.  Jody Lomeo, CEO of ECMC, and Vice Chair of Great Lakes Health has been appointed as interim CEO for Kaleida.  Early Monday morning, we will meet with Jody Lomeo and Kaleida’s Executive Team.

With new Leadership we can expect change.  Change can be difficult.  I ask that all of us, no matter what job title we hold in the organization, stand together.  Communication from the Local to the membership will continue."

The union also noted that "rumors are circulating" and its office has already received numerous calls. But CWA Local 1168 says it has "not received notification that Kaleida has filed for bankruptcy."  It has "not been notified of any change in Kaleida’s pensions." The union also indicated that it has not been "notified of a merger or consolidation with ECMC."