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ECMC notebook: Quatroche's broad support

A few notes and observations following Tuesday’s Erie County Medical Center board of directors meeting, where members appointed Thomas J. Quatroche Jr. the hospital’s permanent chief executive officer:

•The news release that the hospital sent out immediately following the board’s vote was a clear statement of why board members felt they did not need to conduct a national search to fill the CEO’s post.

Quatroche had support from inside and outside the hospital for his candidacy for the job, including from key players as Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul; University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi; Kaleida Health CEO Jody L. Lomeo; Dr. Sam Cloud, the president of the hospital’s medical staff; and Denise Szymura, the president of Civil Service Employees Association Local 815, Erie Unit.
They were all quoted offering words of praise for Quatroche in the hospital’s statement.

For example: “I have worked closely with Tom Quatroche for more than 20 years. He is an exceptional individual with the skills and temperament to lead ECMC through the years ahead,” Hochul said.

•Another reason board members felt so comfortable handing the reins to Quatroche on a permanent basis is satisfaction with his job performance. He has served as hospital president since May and as acting CEO since the early November dismissal of Richard C. Cleland, following a decade as senior vice president.

The hospital is wrapping up a five-year strategic plan, started under Lomeo, that has seen inpatient, outpatient, surgical and emergency-room procedures soar since 2010, Quatroche told board members Tuesday night. He provided similar figures to members of The Buffalo News editorial board this month.

Operating room procedures rose 21 percent between 2010 and 2015, emergency room visits rose 16 percent over that period and total discharges rose 22 percent.
“It may feel like January outside, but it feels like August inside, because we’ve been so busy,” Quatroche quipped Tuesday.

•The News is awaiting details on Quatroche’s employment contract, including his pay and the length of his contract.

•Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said in an interview prior to Tuesday’s meeting that he remains concerned about ECMC board governance following the removal of Cleland as CEO.
The county executive has five appointees to the 15-member ECMC board of directors. The hospital is organized as a public benefit corporation and is no longer a direct part of county operations.

However, the county still provides an annual payment to the hospital — $18.2 million this year — a federal reimbursement for care for the uninsured and underinsured. And the county remains on the hook for intergovernmental transfer payments that aren’t part of state’s Medicaid cap and that could, in a worst case scenario, cost the county more than $20 million in a future year, Poloncarz said.

“What happens at ECMC does affect Erie County,” Poloncarz said. “That’s why I want to feel comfortable with leadership.”

The terms of the five board members appointed by previous county executives expired at the end of December. Poloncarz said he is letting the members hold over past the ends of their terms, for now, as he sees how they carry out their board duties.

•Prior to hiring Quatroche, the board made some appointments at its annual reorganizational meeting. Sharon L. Hanson replaced Kevin Hogan as board chair. Hogan had served four years as board chair. Board member Michael A. Seaman thanked him for his deft oversight of the board during a period when Lomeo left to take over the Kaleida Health hospital system and was replaced by Cleland, before the board soured on Cleland and negotiated his exit from the hospital. Seaman said he didn’t think anyone else had the skill set required to handle the situations.

Hanson’s appointment as chair, a position she has held in the past, also won kudos. The board named Jonathan A. Dandes as chair-elect.

Email: swatson@buffnews.com

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