UPMC Altoona restructuring

McConnell leaving; search on for chief operating officer

Ron McConnell, chief operating officer for UPMC Altoona and UPMC Bedford, was released recently as part of an organizational restructuring, according to a hospital spokeswoman and McConnell himself.

“I did absolutely nothing wrong (anyone you ask or talk to who knows will confirm this),” McConnell stated in an email. “I am no longer employed by UPMC Altoona due to a pure and simple corporate reorganization.”

UPMC will be appointing a new chief operating officer in the coming months from among a group of “excellent candidates,” but for now, Vice President of Operations Mike Corso and Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services Stacey-Ann Okoth have assumed additional duties, according to Danielle Sampsell, the UPMC spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, there has been a rumor that UPMC Altoona President Jerry Murray will be gone by the end of the year — a rumor about which Sampsell had nothing to say.

Jack Schocker, a radiation oncologist with the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center’s location in Altoona, heard the same rumor and asked Murray about it. Murray told Schocker that it wasn’t true; that Murray expected to leave on his own terms, Schocker said.

Sampsell also had nothing to say when asked if McConnell’s departure was part of a larger series of changes planned by corporate management.

Schocker said he didn’t think there was a grand reorganizational plan — but rather that the changes would be confined to McConnell’s departure, along with the prior departure of the hospital’s chief nursing officer and maybe of Murray, if the rumor about him proves true.

An Altoona native, McConnell worked for the local hospital for 17 years, first for Altoona Hospital, then, after its merger with Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital, for Altoona Regional Health System, then, following that hospital’s acquisition by UPMC, for UPMC Altoona, McConnell wrote.

He began as senior vice president of corporate development, becoming chief operating officer 12 years ago, when the hospital was Altoona Regional.

“I am especially proud of helping to grow and shape a health care network in the central Pennsylvania region that today is strong and available for anyone in need,” he wrote. It’s been a benefit to the area because “people don’t like to travel when they are sick,” he stated.

He’s proud of UPMC and UPMC Altoona “for all that everyone has accomplished in preserving and growing health care services for this region,” he wrote. “I was honored to be part of their team.”

He will be teaching in Penn State’s Master of Health Care Administration program this fall, after being asked by the university, he said.

He will be looking for other work.

“I am hopeful that I can become of service to another community,” he stated, explaining that he has many “close business and physician colleagues both regionally and nationally.”

Before working for the local hospital, he held “leadership positions at the Home Nursing Agency and Mount Aloysius College, he stated.

McConnell, 51, attended St. Rose of Lima Elementary School and Altoona Area High School, graduating in 1985 before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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