Columbia Memorial Health President and CEO to Retire, COO Named to Succeed

Jay P. Cahalan, who has served as president and CEO of the Albany Med Health System’s Columbia Memorial Health (CMH) since 2013, will retire from his position at the end of this year. Dorothy M. Urschel, DNP, CMH chief operating officer, will succeed Cahalan as the organization’s next president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2023, by appointment of the Albany Med Health System and CMH boards.

Under Cahalan’s leadership, CMH expanded its services and footprint in Columbia, Greene, and Dutchess counties. He transformed the way CMH delivered care by developing a network of community-based primary and multispecialty providers in addition to hospital-based services. Cahalan was instrumental in the acquisition of the Greene Medical Arts Center, which preserved access to specialty care in Catskill, and the addition of physician practices in Tannersville, Coxsackie, Cairo, and Catskill to CMH. He was directly involved in significant additions to the main Hudson campus, including the construction of the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation Medical Office Building and the Kneller wing. CMH also extended new medical services to Valatie and Copake during Cahalan’s tenure.

In 2016, CMH affiliated with Albany Medical Center. The two hospitals became the first members of what is now the Albany Med Health System. As a member of the system, CMH provides additional resources for advanced care closer to the homes of residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

“The needs of our patients drove every decision we made,” Cahalan said. “My greatest privilege has been serving this community along-side incredible colleagues who have inspired me every day. I sincerely thank the people of our community for their trust in Columbia Memorial Health, and our dedicated team of professionals whose compassionate quality care has improved countless lives.”

CMH board of trustees chair Kirk Kneller said, “Jay and his team strengthened access to health care and broadened the scope of services CMH provides. In this way, he has made an indelible impact on the very health of our communities. Our region is fortunate to have benefitted from Jay’s leadership, which has established CMH as a steadfast partner in the lives of all our neighbors.”

Cahalan first joined CMH in 1994 and served as chief operating officer for 18 years. Active in the community, he sat on the Greene County Rural Health board and will remain a member of the boards of the Bank of Greene County and the Kaaterskill Commons. Cahalan began his health care career as a radiologic technologist, he holds a Master of Science in law degree from Champlain College in Vermont, a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut, and a bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University. He is a graduate of the Executive Program in Managed Care of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Henry W. Bloch School of Business.

As the new president and CEO of CMH, Dr. Urschel will oversee the 192-bed hospital in Hudson and more than 40 primary and specialty care centers. She has years of experience in clinical practice and administrative leadership in multiple organizations. Dr. Urschel began her career as a critical care nurse and thoracic surgery nurse practitioner at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and worked as an acute care cardiac surgery nurse practitioner with Kaleida Health in Buffalo. In 2007, Dr. Urschel joined St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, and when St. Peter’s Health Partners was formed, Dr. Urschel served as vice president of cardiac and vascular services across the system and as vice president of operations and chief nursing officer for Albany Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Urschel came to CMH in 2020 as chief operating officer. She has been integral to the execution of CMH’s Covid-19 response plan, recruitment efforts, and financial strategy. Dr. Urschel is also a leader on the team at CMH working to implement a single electronic medical record (EMR) across the Albany Med Health System. The EMR will link all hospitals within the system, allowing patients to access multiple levels of care more seamlessly.

“Dorothy’s demonstrated leadership in patient care, administration, and system integration position her perfectly to lead our Columbia Memorial division,” said Dennis P. McKenna, MD, president and CEO of the Albany Med Health System. “She possesses deep, experiential knowledge of every aspect of the operation. I look forward to working more closely with Dorothy and her team as we continue to advance health care in our region, building connections between the hospitals and clinics within our system, and solidifying our future as the provider of choice in every community we serve.”

Quality, patient-centered care, and patient access will be among Dr. Urschel’s first priorities.

“Health care is about the holistic treatment of every individual, and our team is dedicated to that approach”, Dr. Urschel said. “Since 1889, CMH has been a pillar of our community. Our culture is rooted in a rich history and deep values. I am honored to lead my colleagues as we embrace the future of health care, innovating dynamically to meet the needs of our patients.”

Dr. Urschel has also held academic positions at the University at Buffalo, and Daemen University in Amherst, N.Y. Her clinical research and writing have been cited in numerous professional publications. Dr. Urschel received a nursing degree from Niagara College in Ontario, Canada, and a master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner from Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y. She obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from the University at Albany, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University at Buffalo. In 2017, she was honored by the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region with its Resourceful Woman award.

Robert T. Cushing, chair of the Albany Med Health System board of directors, said, “We thank Jay for nearly three decades of selfless service to the Columbia Memorial community. His vision to elevate health care led us together, and as our first system partner, his influence will be felt across our region for years to come. I am confident that Dorothy will continue to build upon the strong foundation CMH holds. Her expertise and passion are invaluable assets to the 100,000 people CMH serves.”