Kaskie Named Buffalo News ’Citizen of the Year’

Updated: 5/31/2012

The News salutes the contributions of eight exceptional Western New Yorkers



As reported in the May 18, 2012, Buffalo News Editorial. 

In the end, it's about passion. Look at the list of winners of The Buffalo News 2011 Outstanding Citizens awards, and what unites them is not age, sex, race, profession or any other standard demographic. The common golden thread that runs through these winners is passion for a public cause. In pursuing that passion -- which may or may not coincide with their profession -- these eight people are making a difference in the quality of life in Western New York.

Communities need people like these -- visionaries who pursue their goals over, around or through the obstacles they face. That's leadership. That's passion. That's what these eight individuals bring to the table every day, and Western New York is better off because of them.

...

James R. Kaskie

James R. Kaskie arrived in Buffalo in 2004 as the chief operating officer of Kaleida Health, and in 2006 assumed the chief executive officer's job.

Since then, to say that the St. Louis, Mo., native has played a key role during a period of change is an understatement.

Looking back, his tenure has been marked by a major transformation of Kaleida Health and Western New York's health care landscape.

He's accomplished it, too, in a style that colleagues describe as approachable, including a policy of personally responding to the emails from the hospital system's 10,000 employees.

A key turning point occurred in 2007, when a state commission directed Kaleida Health to close Millard Fillmore Hospital as part of a larger hospital restructuring recommendation that included aligning with Erie County Medical Center and building a heart-vascular center.

Kaskie saw the commission's conclusions as an opportunity to create a new vision for health care delivery here, and that vision is becoming a reality.

In 2008, for instance, Kaleida Health and ECMC reached an agreement to operate separately but align their services under a unified governing board.

And, in 2009, construction began on the Gates Vascular Institute on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a $291 million building that opened this year. The joint project with the University at Buffalo consolidates Kaleida's heart, stroke and vascular services; houses UB's Clinical and Translational Research Center; and includes an institute to test new medical products and bring them to market.

There is more. Under Kaskie's leadership, Kaleida Health built a new nursing facility on Michigan Avenue, expanded Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, brought in the Cleveland Clinic to consult on cardiac care and moved forward with plans for a new Women & Children's Hospital.

Read the full story at http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial-page/viewpoints/article862408.ece.