Former Lockport mayor now the CEO of Eastern Niagara Hospital
Interview by Julie Halm
Anne McCaffrey recently accepted the post of president and chief executive officer of Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport, leaving her position as mayor of that city to seize the opportunity. She is a lifelong resident of Lockport and spent 20 years in health care management before becoming involved in politics.
Q: Tell me about your thought process when you were considering taking this position.
A: When I heard about the opening, I was certainly very intrigued and curious to see what the position would entail. I’ve lived in Lockport my whole life. The more I got involved in the process of interviewing and gathering information, I really thought this could be interesting. The [pending] affiliation with Kaleida was a big part of this. The support of the Kaleida really made me all the more interested in pursuing the position. If you had told me a year ago I would have been doing this, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s not something that I could have planned or prepared for, but it’s interesting because I think all of my experiences have led me to this.
Q: Was it a difficult decision to leave behind the role of mayor?
A: A little bit. I’ve listened to our residents for the last six years that I’ve been in the city government on multiple topics and I can tell you that knowing that our community has a hospital that provides excellent care and is financially stable is a very important thing for people in our city. Because the hospital is so important, I thought that [residents] would be really understanding and really what I’ve gotten is overwhelming support. What I really got from people is that they’re excited for me to bring a lot of the strengths I had in turning the city around to the hospital.
Q: That actually brings me to my next question. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned during your time as mayor that you think will be applicable to your new position?
A: I think probably the biggest thing is knowing the community, knowing the people that live here, what they want, what services they need in the hospital and the community. I’ve lived here my whole life and we’ve raised our children here. We know so many people and living in Lockport is such an important part of my life. I can make sure that the focus is to ensure the strength of our hospital in our community. I would say that’s number one, and numbers two and three together are the leadership experience and the trust I’ve built in the community. There’s a lot of conversations that elected officials have with their constituents and I think my communications with our public on a regular basis were a really important thing.
Q: What are some of your goals in your new position?
A: In this part of Niagara County we have about 100,000 residents so it’s important we have access to services. We have emergency services, child and adolescent psychiatry, chemical dependency, and we know that those are some of the issues in our community. We’re putting the mental health and substance abuse needs of our community at the forefront. Also, having good surgery here in our community is so important. All of those services are so important. We also have an obstetrics unit, so we have a maternity ward. We certainly understand that for some of the bigger issues, people might have to travel to Buffalo to the biggest hospitals, but, you know, for some of that typical, more routine care, I think our public wants to get that in their home community and know that if they need to get there or their family is coming to visit them, it’s a short distance. It’s convenient and I think that’s a comfort to our residents. I’ve been looking a lot at our patient satisfaction responses. What’s different for me is being in a hospital setting, so I’m trying to spend as much time as I can in each department to see what the needs are.
Q: How is it going so far?
A: You know, the transition has been pretty smooth for me. I think there are a lot of similarities in my position as mayor and my position here. It’s leadership, staffing, budgets, understanding the community, looking at feedback and looking for opportunities for growth.