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UAHS Appoints First Official Female President

Released: 9/16/2022 11:00:00 AM

After serving three months as the interim president of the Upper Allegheny Health System (UAHS), Jill Owens, MD, has officially been appointed as the president of the healthcare network. Owens’ appointment marks a significant achievement as she is the first female without the “interim” in front of president to fill the top-ranking position within UAHS.

“Dr. Jill Owens was unanimously selected by the Upper Allegheny Health System Board of Directors to be our president because she is an inspirational leader, a beloved clinician, and a savvy businessperson,” said Jeff Belt, board chairman, UAHS.

Dr. Owens’ first 90 days as the interim president of UAHS were instrumental in creating effective change within the organization. In those three short months under Dr. Owens’ leadership, the organization of over 1,200 employees saw some vital improvements.

One of Dr. Owens’ first successful initiatives was putting together an effective administrative team which includes local experts who are committed to the community and want to see the organization thrive for years to come.

Dr. Owens’ saw the need for cultural change within the organization and began an employee engagement campaign to help shift the employee morale. Employee forums, more leadership rounding, and being approachable and accessible were important components to help effectively institute cultural change.

“Getting feedback and improving engagement from team members at all levels, departments, and backgrounds is very important to help drive the change the organization needs to move it in a positive direction. The past few years have been very trying for our employees, and I think showing that we not only support them but are standing beside them is very important,” Dr. Owens said. “We’re aiming to be not only the healthcare system of choice, but the employer of choice within the region.”

Dr. Owens added that, like many other healthcare providers, UAHS has a very difficult path forward due to the financial impact of COVID-19, a nationwide staffing shortage, decreasing reimbursements as well as the continued shift of care from the inpatient to outpatient setting.

“In my time as a clinician here, I have never seen the health care delivery system so challenged like we witnessed these past few years,” she said. “But, we are not alone in facing this new environment. So many others are as well. I am confident that, by working together, we can continue to evolve, become stronger and meet the community’s needs.”

UAHS continues to see successful recruitment of new physicians and services to the healthcare network, building a wider breadth of services that continues to outperform other rural healthcare networks. Along with fruitful recruitments within her first 90 days, Dr. Owens launched new initiatives to continue to drive down costs with multiple cost saving measures in addition to improving the overall patient experience and quality of care received at UAHS entities.

“Dr. Owens’ life’s work has been caregiving in our community, this community where she was born and raised. After receiving her medical degree in Pittsburgh, Dr. Owens returned to Bradford to establish her own very successful family practice. Over many years, she has provided healthcare leadership, serving on the Bradford Regional Hospital Medical Executive Committee, and the Upper Allegheny Health System Board of Directors. Just prior to her promotion to interim president, she was chief medical officer of Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center,” said Belt.

Dr. Owens is a lifelong resident of the Bradford community and longtime physician in the area. Prior to her appointment as interim president back in May, Dr. Owens was the chief medical officer overseeing all clinical operations within UAHS, the parent company that operates Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital starting in 2021. A practicing physician for over 22 years, she also served as medical director for UAHS’ physician networks, including Foothills Medical Group, Bradford Regional Medical Services and Health System Physician, PC.

“I think the passion that I have for the community will be the driving factor that will make a difference in my leadership,” said Dr. Owens. “I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful area with great people. I am very fortunate to be in a position that can help make a difference in the lives of people in our region who aren’t strangers on the street but are family, friends, and neighbors,” Dr. Owens said.

Dr. Owens acknowledged that there are obstacles to overcome but is confident in her team to meet the healthcare needs of the community. She also pointed out the partnership with Kaleida Health that was formed in 2016 that has helped to improve the rural healthcare network.

“UAHS’ affiliation with Kaleida Health has been such a wonderful relationship for our organization,” said Dr. Owens. “Knowing that we have the support and connection to an abundance of valuable resources that Kaleida Health has at their fingertips continues to help enhance the services we can offer in our communities.”

“On behalf of Kaleida Health, we congratulate Dr. Owens on this official appointment,” said Don Boyd, president and CEO of Kaleida Health. “By building a strong clinical relationship between Kaleida Health and UAHS, we can continue to improve the health and wellness of the Twin Tier communities. Under Dr. Owens’ leadership, we will be able to further integrate our two systems and implement physician recruitment, telemedicine, information technology, operations and other back office opportunities.”

The partnership with Kaleida Health 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 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 and current Pennsylvania delegate to the American Medical Association.

“The caregivers at Olean General and Bradford Regional have borne a lot of stress during the COVID pandemic. A caregiver herself, Dr. Owens expresses empathy toward our cherished nurses, aids, technicians, and doctors,” said Belt. “Dr. Jill Owens is the right leader, at the right time.”