St. Elizabeth Medical Center named its first lay president and chief executive officer Friday.
Richard H. Ketcham, who was most recently president/CEO of Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, is taking over the post from Sister M. Johanna DeLelys, who retired in July. Robert C. Scholefield, the hospital’s chief operating officer, is currently serving as interim CEO.
Ketcham, who will take over on Sept. 8, will be the first layperson to head the 94-year-old facility; the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities is the medical center’s religious sponsor, and in the past members of the order have filled the top post.
“I am both honored and humbled to have been offered the opportunity to be the first lay chief executive officer of St. Elizabeth Medical Center,” Ketcham said in a news release. “My goal is to continue in the great tradition of the Sisters of St. Francis, as well as help prepare the medical center for the future. I have been overwhelmed with how welcoming everyone has been to me. I look forward to working with such a dynamic team of employees, physicians and volunteers.”
Sister Patricia Burkard, general minister of the Sisters of St. Francis, said in the release: “We look forward to a fruitful future under the leadership of Richard, in which the mission of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities will continue to thrive, through his dedicated service and that of all who are a part of the medical center community.”
Ketcham’s statement went on to say that he and his wife, Susan, look forward to becoming active members of the Utica community.
Beyond their prepared statements, neither Ketcham nor hospital officials would comment on the appointment Friday, but a news conference introducing Ketcham is planned for 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Ketcham is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a member of the board of directors of the New York State Hospital Review and Planning Council.
From 1986 to 2009, Ketcham served as head of Brooks Memorial, a 99-bed, not-for-profit and acute-care hospital with a staff of 450 employees and 70 physicians, located just south of Buffalo.
According to an October 2008 article in The Post-Journal in Jamestown, in the two decades Ketcham led Brooks, he oversaw an era of expansion during which a new radiology wing was added, the emergency department doubled in size, a dialysis unit was built and expanded, the obstetrics department was remodeled and a sleep center opened.
The Post-Journal also reported that when he left in 2009, Ketcham said the hospital was debt-free.
A November 2008 article in the Dunkirk Observer reported the Brooks Memorial board of directors named its Women’s Imaging Center in his honor.
Before taking the helm at Brooks Memorial, Ketcham served as administrator and associate administrator of Highland Hospital in Shreveport, La. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University.
Scholefield will return to his post as COO once Ketcham is on board.
“We are grateful to Bob for taking on added responsibility during this time of transition,” board Chairman Norman I. Siegel said in a statement. “The board’s Search Committee felt it was important that the new president/CEO have substantial CEO experience. Mr. Ketcham has a record of consistent achievement in areas of quality, expansion projects and establishing new services. We are pleased to welcome such a high-caliber leader to St. Elizabeth.”