Western New York’s largest health system late Tuesday announced a leadership change at the top of the organization, which came as a surprise to many in the community.
Kaleida Health’s new CEO is Don Boyd, who succeeds the retiring Bob Nesselbush.
Boyd, 50, had been serving as Kaleida’s president and chief operating officer since 2019, overseeing day-to-day operations across the $2 billion health system, which employs more than 10,000 people. Boyd also will maintain the role of president in addition to CEO.
Nesselbush, who is 57, joined Kaleida Health as chief financial officer in April 2019 after spending 24 years at Rochester Regional Health. He was named CEO of Kaleida in late 2020, as the health system grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kaleida provided no further information about whether the change was planned. Nesselbush did not return a call seeking comment but in a statement said new leadership was “appropriate” as Kaleida enters a new era in health care delivery and as the industry continues to evolve.
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“Don is a proven and trusted leader who has 25 years of experience, growth and success with Kaleida Health,” Gary Crosby, the newly-elected chair of Kaleida’s board of directors, said in a statement. “A natural team builder, he is the right person who the board of directors believes will move the organization forward as we find ourselves, like so many other hospital systems, navigating some very challenging times.”
In addition to the financial challenges the health system is facing, Kaleida also is in the midst of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with two unions that represent about two-thirds of its workforce. Union leaders said the leadership change came as a shock.
The latest extension runs through the end of July.
“None of us saw this coming,” said Cori Gambini, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1168.
Gambini said she had just met with Nesselbush about 10 days ago for a half-hour early in the morning to talk about the negotiations. Gambini got a call late in the day Tuesday from Boyd, notifying her that Nesselbush was retiring and that he had been appointed CEO.
Boyd, Gambini said, has been a regular at the bargaining table during negotiations.
Boyd has risen through the ranks since joining Kaleida in 1998. That included a time as president of Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital from August 2006 to May 2009, leading efforts to grow service lines such as cardiac, stroke and vascular surgery while also playing a key role in the integration efforts for Gates Vascular Institute.
After that, he was Kaleida’s executive vice president of business development for a decade.
“I am honored, and I thank the board of directors for their confidence in me and the team here – it is incredibly meaningful,” Boyd said in a statement. “That said, there is a lot of work to do. It is no secret that the national health care delivery landscape has changed dramatically since Covid-19.
“In fact, the staggering financial and operational impact is still being felt here at Kaleida Health. But I am confident that we can get through this. Together with the dedicated members of the Kaleida Health family, we will continue to evolve and grow to better serve our patients and this community.”
In a statement, Nesselbush, a Western New York native, said he was proud of what Kaleida had accomplished in the last few years.
“Coming home to Buffalo and having the opportunity to work with such dedicated physicians, nurses, leaders and staff has so been rewarding for me,” Nesselbush said. “Together, we met the Covid-19 challenge head-on while, at the same time, repositioning Kaleida Health for the future.”