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Hospital leader new to town: 'We love Buffalo so far'

Darcy Craven had never been to Western New York before Kaleida Health recruited him to take over as president of Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst and DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda.

But the region's pro hockey team and its saturation-level presence of Tim Hortons franchises helped ease the transition for the native of Winnipeg, in western Canada.

Craven began serving in the top jobs at the two suburban hospitals in October. He replaced Chris Lane, who moved downtown to take over as president of Kaleida Health's Buffalo General Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute.

Craven moved to this area from Florence, S.C., where he had served as CEO of Carolinas Hospital System since 2012. The 45-year-old has a bachelor's degree from the University of Manitoba and an MBA from Gardner-Webb University.

Kaleida Health hosted an event last Thursday at Park Country Club to welcome Craven to town. He broke away for a few minutes to answer five questions from The Buffalo News.

What do you think of Buffalo?
We love Buffalo so far, we're really enjoying it. We bought a house in Clarence, and the kids are settling in school. Everyone's doing great. We're really enjoying everything Buffalo has to offer. Went to several Sabres games. We're big hockey fans, so that's a big plus for us.

What have you been doing in your four months since joining Kaleida Health and taking the reins at Suburban and DeGraff?
Spent a lot of time learning and meeting the staff and the physicians at both facilities. Just trying to get my arms around – both facilities are so different – what each facility offers and what their strengths are and possible opportunities where I can help. Suburban is obviously a very busy facility, it's a lot of surgeries each and every day. DeGraff's more of a smaller, community-focused hospital. The communities are really different as well. North Tonawanda is a more aging community while the Amherst area is younger and more vibrant.

With so many procedures being done on an outpatient basis today, where do the kind of large, freestanding hospitals that were built decades ago fit in the new health care reality?
There's always going to be a place for the big hospital. People are always going to need inpatient care. And Kaleida, in my four months here, is really focused on lowering costs in the hospital and the ambulatory setting. And that's really the goal, I think, for everybody is to provide the highest quality care at the lowest cost. Some of that will be in the outpatient setting and some of that will be in the inpatient setting. Unfortunately patients will always need inpatient care.

Setting aside the medical outcome, how much do you worry about the experience patients have in your hospitals: Comfort, a clean room, the quality of the meal, their satisfaction with the care they've received?
It is at the forefront all the time. It's something we talk about every day, both at the hospital setting and at Kaleida. All the facilities are heavily focused on the patient experience and improving patient experience. We recognize patients have a choice and we want to make sure we provide the best option for them to seek their care.

If you could fix one thing that's broken with the health care system in this country, what would it be?
I think we still have a problem with access in the United States. Especially now that we have a new election, and there's a lot of angst around where the Affordable Care Act is going to go, there's still pockets of citizens who don't have access to care. New York I think has done a good job expanding Medicaid and making sure people have insurance coverage, but there's a lot of states that haven't done that.

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