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Klass to Retire from Kaleida Health

Released: 7/15/2021 6:00:00 AM

Cheryl Klass, MBA, BSN, RN, executive vice president and chief nursing executive (CNE) for Kaleida Health, has announced her retirement from the organization, capping a 45-year career in nursing leadership, hospital operations and healthcare administration.

“On behalf of the board of directors, our management team and the entire Kaleida Health family, we say thank you to Cheryl for her dedication and leadership,” said Bob Nesselbush, CEO of Kaleida Health. “Her work as CNE these past five years has helped the organization reaffirm its commitment to nursing as well as leading from the bedside.”

Named chief nursing executive in 2016, Klass is credited for creating, organizing and overseeing Kaleida Health’s first ever nursing plan of excellence.

The plan included improving nursing operations, nurse engagement, and care quality. It also included appointing new nursing leaders across the organization, including CNOs at each Kaleida Health hospital, the appointment of a system-wide director of nursing education plus the implementation of a nurse manager council.

As a result of implementing the new nursing plan of excellence, nurse engagement and satisfaction rose as did quality of care.

Klass said, “I really appreciate the opportunities over the many years with Kaleida Health - first as registered nurse, then CNO, eventually hospital president and then CNE. I am so proud to have worked with such a talented and dedicated nursing team.”

Klass came to Kaleida Health in 2004 when she was recruited to serve as president of the then Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo. It was a homecoming of sorts as she originally launched her nursing career at the Byrant Street facility as a staff registered nurse in 1977.

Allegra Jaros, president of Oishei Children’s Hospital, said, “I am so proud and honored to have worked with Cheryl for the past 18 years. She always led and made decisions based on what was best for our patients. Cheryl would say “it makes the hard decisions easy.” For myself, Cheryl has been a friend and mentor. I am thankful to have had her as a leader in my career path, and I look forward to celebrating with her as a friend for years to come.”

David Hughes, MD, Kaleida Health’s chief medical officer, said, “Cheryl has been a steadfast supporter of Kaleida Health, and in particular, our frontline workforce through development, vision and leadership. I wish her nothing but the best!”

In December 2011, Klass was appointed senior vice president of operations, Buffalo General Medical Center, which also includes the Gates Vascular Institute and HighPointe on Michigan. She also oversaw Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo at that time as well.

“Cheryl has been a dedicated and passionate nurse leader who has always advocated for nursing and quality care,” said Chris Lane, president of Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute. “Kaleida Health, and the Western New York community for that matter, are better because of Cheryl and her commitment to excellence.”

Klass has a comprehensive and very successful background in both adult and pediatric healthcare operations. She began her career as a registered nurse at Children's Hospital of Buffalo in 1977, but quickly advanced into nursing leadership roles that included director of the pediatric, surgical and critical care divisions of the hospital.

She also eventually served as the chief nursing officer of Children's Hospital for many years before relocating to Chicago in 1993 to accept the role of chief operating officer for Children's Memorial Medical Center, part of the Northwestern Healthcare System.

Klass returned to Buffalo in 2000 and served as the chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and chief operating officer of Sisters Hospital of Buffalo, as well as vice president of Women's Health for the Catholic Health System, before returning to Children's in 2004.

She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Niagara University and her Master of Business Administration from the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Judy Baumgartner, president of Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and the DeGraff Medical Park concluded by saying, “I want to express my sincere appreciation to Cheryl for her invaluable leadership and countless contributions to the advancement of nursing and healthcare in Western New York.”