Just a few months after announcing the widely unpopular merger of services between Bradford and Olean, N.Y., hospitals, president and CEO Jeff Zewe has resigned and left the company.
Upper Allegheny Health System officials said Tuesday that Zewe had left, and that Mary E. LaRowe, president and CEO of Brooks-TLC Hospital System in Dunkirk, N.Y., was named interim president and CEO.
A release issued by UAHS officials offered no other details about Zewe except that he had left the organization. When contacted Tuesday evening with additional questions, spokesman Dennis McCarthy said only that “Jeff resigned and left the organization this morning. The organization will not comment further on reasons.”
Requests for further information, or to speak to hospital or board officials, went unanswered.
As of Tuesday evening, LaRowe was already listed on the UAHS hospital websites as being the interim president and CEO of UAHS, Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean (N.Y.) General Hospital.
McCarthy said that LaRowe had not been involved in UAHS prior to the appointment.
“Mary LaRowe is a veteran CEO of rural health organizations. She is CEO of Brooks-TLC which is a Kaleida affiliate,” he said. “However, while she knows many of our people, she previously has had no role at UAHS. She will be a great asset to UAHS during the interim and the search for a new CEO.”
Officials made it clear that the process of merging services toward a goal of creating “centers of excellence” would continue.
In a prepared statement mostly geared toward thanking caregivers, UAHS board chair Jeff Belt said the transition from Zewe to LaRowe would be seamless for the community.
“We will also continue to implement our board-led transformation of healthcare delivery in our region,” Belt continued. “It is imperative that we continue our plan of change toward centers of excellence.”
The UAHS board, and its affiliate parent Kaleida Health, have authorized a national search for a new president and CEO for UAHS. LaRowe will not be a candidate in the search.
Don Boyd, chief operating officer of Kaleida Health, the affiliate partner of UAHS, said in a prepared statement, “Mary has a demonstrated track record of leadership and collaboration especially in rural healthcare. Having worked in places like Dunkirk, Hornell and Batavia, it is clear that she understands the needs here. She can step in as interim president and CEO and will continue to work to enhance care for the residents of the region.”
LaRowe is a longtime hospital leader in Upstate New York. She was named CEO of Brooks-TLC in the spring of 2016. Prior to that she was the president and CEO of Catholic Health East’s St. James Mercy Health System in Hornell, N.Y.
LaRowe has worked in healthcare for more than 35 years, including 30 years in administration and leadership with the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), Westfield Memorial Hospital, United Memorial Medical Center (Batavia) as well as the New York State Department of Health.
LaRowe is board certified (FACHE) with the American College of Healthcare Executives. She has been involved in the American Hospital Association, the Healthcare Association of New York State, Rochester Regional Healthcare Association, United Way of the Southern Tier and the Rural Area Health Education Center.
She will remain president and CEO of Brooks-TLC. Ken Morris, the hospital’s chief operating officer, will assume day-to-day leadership for the Dunkirk-based organization during this interim period.
A registered nurse, Zewe was named senior vice president and chief operating officer of UAHS in 2015. In early March 2020, he was tapped to take over for former CEO and president Timothy J. Finan upon his retirement March 15.
Zewe took over just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and navigated both hospitals through the often-differing regulations of Pennsylvania and New York while also preparing to merge services between the two facilities.
Prior to going to Olean hospital in January 2011, Zewe was vice president of patient care services for Excela Health, a multi-hospital system located outside of Pittsburgh. Prior to Excela Health, he was a nursing director at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh where he was responsible for multiple cardiac nursing units.
Zewe received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Duquesne University and a master’s in business administration from Point Park University.