A for-profit healthcare corporation in western New York has tapped its first full-time president and chief executive officer, setting the stage for a more aggressive push into managed-care contracting.
Richard W. Petersen, president and CEO of Lockport (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital, will take the helm of the corporation, called WestLink, on March 11.
WestLink's 11 hospital, health system and long-term-care members have 2,337 acute-care beds, 695 nursing home beds and combined operating budgets totaling $525 million annually. The network is not a licensed provider, so any managed-care contracts must be signed by individual members.
"WestLink is the forum to get us together," said Richard H. Ketcham, president and CEO of Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk and a member of WestLink's search committee.
Incorporated in April 1987, WestLink has served largely as a vehicle for discussions among member institutions. But now, Ketcham said, WestLink has an application with the state to participate in Medicaid managed care and is working with Independent Health, a Buffalo-based HMO, to develop a Medicaid managed-care product. The group also will be seeking other risk-sharing opportunities, he said.
By naming a full-time CEO, "the attempt here is to make this a much more formalized, much closer-knit, group," said Michael Shaw, a spokesman for Buffalo General.
In a press release, Petersen said WestLink has the potential to be the premier healthcare network in western New York. To earn that title, the network will have to compete with Millard Fillmore Health System in Buffalo and Buffalo's Roman Catholic healthcare providers, which recently announced the formation of a new system.
WestLink's operations used to be headed on a part-time basis by William V. Kinnard Jr., M.D., former president and CEO of General Care Corp., the parent company of Buffalo (N.Y.) General Hospital. Kinnard now serves as president and CEO of Buffalo General Foundation and chairman of WestLink's board.
John E. Friedlander, president and CEO of Buffalo General, took charge of WestLink last fall when he succeeded Kinnard as head of General Care Corp.