Just a few months after announcing the merger of services between Bradford and Olean, N.Y., hospitals, president and CEO Jeff Zewe resigned and left the healthcare system.

Upper Allegheny Health System officials have said little regarding Zewe’s departure — when contacted with questions regarding the development, spokesman Dennis McCarthy said only that “Jeff resigned and left the organization. ... The organization will not comment further on reasons.”

Requests for further information, or to speak to hospital or board officials, went unanswered.

Mary E. LaRowe, president and CEO of Brooks-TLC Hospital System in Dunkirk, will be the interim president and CEO.

As of Tuesday evening, LaRowe was already listed on the UAHS hospital websites as being the interim president and CEO of UAHS, Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center.

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 at Olean General and Bradford Regional.

UAHS officials announced in January that measures would include the relocation of all acute care and surgical services from Bradford to OGH, and the reduction of Bradford Regional’s inpatient capacity to 10 medical beds — down from 107. The reduction of services at Bradford Regional led to widespread complaints and a petition against the moves in the Bradford community.

In a prepared statement mostly geared toward thanking caregivers, UAHS board chair Jeff Belt said Tuesday the transition from Zewe to LaRowe would be seamless for the communities.

“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.”

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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 took over for former CEO and president Timothy J. Finan upon his retirement March 15.

Zewe officially took the reins of Upper Allegheny just days before 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.

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