By Jonathan D. Epstein
Published 4:33 p.m. April 15, 2020
Kaleida Health CEO Jody Lomeo will stay at the helm of the region's largest hospital system through the end of the coronavirus pandemic, despite having announced plans two months ago to retire at the end of this year.
As a result, Kaleida has suspended indefinitely its active search for a new CEO, which was about to kick off when the Covid-19 health crisis hit the Western New York region.
"We’ve suspended the search. We’ll take it up at an appropriate time whenever this thing is behind us," said Frank Curci, Kaleida board chairman and CEO of Tops Markets. "Jody’s the right man for this job at this time, and we’re thrilled to have his undivided attention and his enthusiastic and dedicated leadership during this trying time."
Lomeo, who has been at the helm of Kaleida for six years, had said in late January that he did not intend to renew his contract when it expires in February 2021 – even though the Kaleida board had offered him an extension. He had cited personal reasons, including a desire to spend more time with his family.
Now, though, Lomeo says he has no intention of leaving the health care company and its employees in the lurch, without steady leadership in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis that is stretching Kaleida and all other hospital systems to their limits.
"I would never, ever leave the institution in a situation anytime soon where it’s not better than where we found it," Lomeo said Wednesday. "At a time like this, we all need to be together, be leading, and we all need continuity and stability."
He referred to Kaleida as his "family at work," and said he would even stay past his contract if necessary. "If I’m needed past then, I’ll do what I have to do. I’ll stay," he said.
Lomeo said the hospital company was "just about to engage a search firm, and our whole world changed." So Lomeo said he spoke with Curci and the board, who agreed that "now is not the time to contemplate this."
"He was not only amenable, he was anxious to stay and pledged to be here for as long as it took," Curci said. "It wasn’t even a question for him."
As for his own family, Lomeo said his wife and three sons supported him.
"They totally get it. They've been a part of this from Day 1," he said. "It’s life lessons. It’s doing what’s right when needed. I’m just doing my job."