Jones Memorial Hospital leadership

James Helms (left) will take over as Jones Memorial Hospital’s president and chief executive officer in July upon the retirement of Eva Benedict (right).

WELLSVILLE — James Helms, a vice president and chief financial officer of Jones Memorial Hospital, will take over as the hospital’s president and chief executive in July upon the retirement of Eva Benedict.

The Jones Memorial board of directors announced the appointment, which will take effect July 16, on Monday. Benedict, a registered nurse who has worked at Jones for four decades, served the last 14 years as CEO.

Helms, in addition to his VP and CFO role at Jones, has also been serving as chief financial officer at St. James Hospital in Hornell since 2019.

“Jim has the experience, commitment, and the hard-earned confidence of the hospital board members,” said Richard Ewell, chairman of the JMH board.

Of Benedict, Ewell said she “has been an incredible advocate for the hospital and rural healthcare. She is well-known to our state and federal representatives and will be missed. Eva used her unique combination of leadership ability, work ethic, kindness and wisdom to guide our Hospital through many challenges.

“Our board has the utmost respect for her and wish her well in the future,” Ewell added. “Moving forward, we are looking forward to working with Jim in his new role.”

Helms and Benedict have worked together for a number of years. Under their leadership, Jones secured $13 million in Vital Access Provider Program (VAP) grants, which helped to fund operational improvements and start up new programs, resulting in a positive operating margin in just over three years.

They also secured a total of $23.7 million in New York State Transformation grants for both electronic medical record (EMR) conversion as well as the medical village construction, which includes a third-floor expansion for a provider clinic and operating room and fixed MRI additions.

When faced with service line closures due to the COVID pandemic, Helms secured a combined $8 million for Jones Memorial and St. James in paycheck protection funding and avoiding staffing reductions.

“I have worked closely with Jim for several years and I have every confidence that he will successfully lead Jones Memorial in the future,” Benedict said. “He has demonstrated his leadership abilities and dedication to Jones and our community as CFO of both Jones and St. James.”

She said Helms is also highly respected by the management team at Jones and by the UR Medicine leadership.

Steven I. Goldstein, senior vice president of the University of Rochester Medical Center who oversees UR Medicine regional hospitals, and also serves as president and CEO of Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals in Rochester, noted that in eight years Helms has taken on increased levels of leadership responsibility that have prepared him to serve as CEO.

“Jim is well-known as an effective administrator within the UR Medicine system as well as in Allegany County, which will help him to build on the track record of growth and success Eva Benedict has led at Jones over the past 14 years,” Goldstein said.

In addition to his past finance roles, Helms has led multiple departments within healthcare operations, including facilities, corporate compliance, supply chain, health information management, information technologies, nutrition, revenue cycle and practice management.

“Working alongside the clinical managers and medical provides to ensure we have the resources to deliver quality healthcare to our rural communities has always been a top priority,” Helms said. “We need to constantly evaluate who our customers are, both internally and externally, and work to meet and exceed their needs.”

He said he was humbled to be given the opportunity to lead JMH.

“As we celebrate the hospital’s 100th anniversary this year, I couldn’t be prouder to work with the Jones Memorial team to take our healthcare into the next chapter of our history,” he said.

Helms has undergraduate degrees in business from both Alfred State College and St. Bonaventure University, where he also received his master in business administration. He is a fellow in the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Helms served more than two decades in the U.S. Army Reserves, working throughout global areas of operations and serving in multiple leadership roles before retiring at the rank of command sergeant major.

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