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UAHS names interim leadership team

Jill Owens

Dr. Jill Owens, a longtime physician from Bradford, Pa. was named interim president of the Upper Allegheny Health System.

Owens is currently the chief medical officer for the system, overseeing all clinical operations at Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital.

“This is a natural progression with an expanded role for Dr. Owens within our organization,” said Jeff Belt, president of the UAHS Board of Directors. “With more than two decades of clinical care and physician leadership experience right here in our own community, the board of directors believes that she is the right leader at the right time for UAHS.”

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to lead our health system out of some very challenging times,” Owens said. “The last couple of years, with the combination of the pandemic and the great resignation, we’ve been stressed with providing the level of care needed while incurring a significant financial burden from the cost of agency staffing. I have great confidence in the foundation of our workforce and I’m looking forward to using the leadership team that we are building to empower them, support them and grow the organization.”

In addition to this, David J. DiBacco was named interim chief operating officer for UAHS. DiBacco is the COO for Kaleida Health’s northtowns facilities which include Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, the Millard Fillmore Surgery Center and the DeGraff Medical Park. He has held that position since 2018.

Belt added, “Having Dave DiBacco at Dr. Owens side, with his deep operational and financial experience especially in rural health care, will only help further accelerate our growth and transformation.”

Owens has been serving as chief medical officer and vice president of quality for Upper Allegheny Health System since 2021. A practicing physician for over 20 years, she also serves as medical director for UAHS’ physician networks, including Foothills Medical Group, Bradford Regional Medical Services and Health System Physician, PC.

“We have some of the best doctors, nurses, managers and staff in the country — right here in Bradford and Olean — and I’m counting on them to rise up and make UAHS the leader in providing healthcare to our entire region,” Owens said.

DiBacco was named chief operating officer for Kaleida Health’s northtowns facilities in 2018 after he was recruited from Eastern Niagara Hospital. At Eastern Niagara Hospital he spent nearly 15 years as the COO and also served a stint as interim CEO for the Niagara County hospital system.

Belt added, “We know COVID-19 has tested all of us, but no one has endured more than our incredibly brave staff across UAHS. We cannot thank them enough for their bravery and hard work. Because of them, we have battled through the pandemic and we are well positioned for the future. In addition to this, our physician recruitment efforts and growth plans over the past year are tangible proof that our one hospital, two campuses strategy is working for those we serve in the Twin Tiers of Pennsylvania and New York. Today’s leadership announcements are designed to further assist that growth.”

Belt praised interim CEO Mary LaRowe for stepping into the role last year as well as former chief operator Rick Braun who left UAHS earlier this week.

“On behalf of the board, management and staff, we cannot thank Mary enough for her leadership during these trying times,” said Belt. “She came to us in the midst of the pandemic and helped guide us through some very challenging times. The same goes for Rick Braun. He has been a tireless advocate for the organization, providing great leadership across our financial and operational divisions, we thank him for his service and contributions.”

Belt pointed to the partnership with Upper Allegheny’s parent organization, Kaleida Health, and credited them for their assistance during COVID as well as these most recent operational collaborations.

“Kaleida Health has provided tremendous support to the organization, especially the past few years. Whether it was helping us battle through COVID, collaborating on physician and nursing recruitment, lending operational support with leaders like Dave DiBacco or supporting our one hospital, two campus strategy, they have been there for us. We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us save rural health care and positioning UAHS for the future.”

“This is another opportunity to build on the partnership and the great clinical relationship between Kaleida Health and Upper Allegheny Health System,” said Bob Nesselbush, CEO of Kaleida Health. “Our collective goal is to come out of COVID stronger than when we went into it. This is all about continuing to improve the health and wellness of the Twin Tier communities. There are so many opportunities to integrate further and implement opportunities like physician recruitment, telemedicine, information technology, operations and back office.”

In 2016, Kaleida Health and UAHS announced their affiliation agreement. Kaleida Health became the parent organization of UAHS and its member hospitals, Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC) and Olean General Hospital (OGH). The alignment with a larger health system is designed to help rural hospitals preserve local health care and enhance their missions.

The partnership has had tangible success for UAHS, allowing access to Kaleida Health’s extensive clinical capabilities and vast array of services at facilities such as Buffalo General Medical Center, Gates Vascular Institute and Oishei Children’s Hospital while at the same time introducing new and expanded programs and services to the Bradford and Olean communities.

Prior to being named CMO for Upper Allegheny, Dr. Owens was the vice president of clinical operations and physician relations and interim executive director, UAHS’ physician network. She served as acting medical director of Foothills Medical Group and as associate medical director of BRMC. In addition, she has operated Bradford Family Medicine, Inc., a private family practice, since 2000.

Dr. Owens has served on multiple committees/boards and occupied leadership roles over the last 20 years, including the UAHS and BRMC board of directors, board quality, chair of the department of family practice, Professional Review Committee, BRMC medical staff president and vice president roles.

She is the recipient of several awards including the 2017 Physician Honoree from the Bradford Hospital Foundation, Women of the Year from the Bradford YMCA and Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Dr. Owens has held positions on the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s advisory and alumni boards, and volunteered with medical missions and medical explorers. She is a board-certified family physician and a fellow in the American Academy of Family Physicians.

She earned her bachelor’s degree at UPB and went on to complete medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and her residency at St. Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pa., where she also served as chief resident. She is a former president the McKean County Medical Society.

DiBacco comes to UAHS from Kaleida Health and brings a strong background with rural hospital operations experience. He has spent nearly 35 years in the health care industry.

Prior to joining ENH, he has served in senior leadership and operations positions at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital. DiBacco is a resident of Lewiston.

DiBacco holds two bachelor’s degrees from Niagara University, one in accounting and one in business/commerce. He is active in the Niagara County community, volunteering his time with various community, business and sports organizations.

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