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Former ECMC chief executive lands job at Southern Tier hospital

Richard Cleland, who was forced out as CEO of Erie County Medical Center 13 months ago, has found a job with a hospital in the Southern Tier.

Cleland is the administrator of Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital in Bath and system vice president of post acute services for Arnot Health, which operates Ira Davenport, two other small hospitals and three nursing homes in that part of the state.

Cleland told The News that he joined the system over the summer. The appointment received little notice at the time, aside from a brief mention in the (Corning) Leader.

"I'm honored to return to a healthcare executive position with Arnot Health," Cleland said in an email. "Our mission is ever so important to the community we serve. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a phenomenal organization."

Cleland's tenure with ECMC ended under a cloud of controversy. Following an earlier stint at the hospital, he had returned there in 2006 and became chief operating officer in 2012.

He was named interim CEO in 2014 when Jody L. Lomeo left the top job to take over the Kaleida Health system.

The ECMC board removed the interim tag in May 2015 but, just six months later, voted to oust Cleland. The board said it had voted to fire Cleland for cause, but Cleland insisted he resigned for cause.

His chief operating officer, Mary Laski Hoffman, resigned after Cleland refused the board’s orders to fire her. That was one of several demands the board made of Cleland if he wanted to stay on as CEO.

Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., formerly the hospital’s president, began serving as acting CEO and the board soon entered settlement negotiations with Cleland and Hoffman. The ECMC board in January named Quatroche the president and CEO.

In late December 2015, representatives for ECMC and Cleland announced they had reached a deal. Cleland, who was earning $600,000 annually as CEO, would receive two years' severance, for a total of $1.2 million, as a settlement. Hoffman received $350,000.

The settlement also included a non-compete clause that barred Cleland from working for any other hospital in the Western New York market, or for any vendor or company that does business with ECMC, for the next two years, a source familiar with the agreement told The News at the time.

Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital is a two-hour drive from downtown Buffalo.

Arnot Health is not required to disclose Cleland's pay until the system files its annual financial disclosure form with the IRS in late 2017. James Watson, who left as Ira Davenport's president and CEO in February of this year, earned $232,162 in total compensation in 2014, according to the hospital's most recent federal filing.

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