‘Changing’ at the top

Almost as quietly as he came in, former chief executive officer Jonathan Lawrence was out at Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York.

Lawrence, who was appointed to the position in 2008, had his share of headaches to deal with while overseeing the operations of Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, Tri-County Medical Center in Gowanda and TLC Health Network in Irving. Not only was Lawrence tasked with getting all three to work together, he also had to deal with a major flooding disaster in 2009 that wiped out the Gowanda facility.

His term here, in just those instances alone, did not make for smooth sailing.

But Lawrence also filled large shoes, most notably those of former Brooks Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Richard Ketcham who was a constant in this region for an ever-changing health-care field.

When both the board and Lawrence decided to part ways late last month, Lake Erie Health Board Chairman Christopher Lanski offered this statement: “The timing of this decision was a reflection of the rapidly changing face of health care in New York state and across the country. The urgent pressures of healthcare reform along with our current financial picture have necessitated a shift in the strategic direction of this organization.”

Lawrence came to our hospitals from Little Falls and had a strong resume of leadership. What he did here was bring different hospitals together and did some behind-the-scenes efficiencies that will pay off in the future.

He also helped begin a new partnership with UPMC Hamot, which is assisting in the transition process for the network.

Changes happen often in leadership with health-care facilities across the nation. This example is no different.

Despite the exit, Lawrence has left the Lake Erie Health System stronger as one than when he arrived. That is progress.