Cooley Dickinson loses 2 senior leaders

  • A. KIM SAAL gazette file photo


Staff Writer
Published: 1/19/2017 9:37:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Two key members of the senior leadership team for Cooley Dickinson Health Care are departing this winter.

Dr. A. Kim Saal, executive vice president and chief clinical and strategy officer, and nurse Kate Bechtold, vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer, have announced their intentions to leave the hospital after two years in their respective positions.

Saal, 64, who joined the leadership team in January 2015, said Thursday that he will remain in his role through the end of February, before relocating to California to be nearer his family.

He called this a personal decision, but not an easy one to make, after working closely with Cooley Dickinson President and CEO Joanne Marqusee to shore up the foundation of the hospital, develop future leaders and share a common vision for delivering health care.

“What we’ve built here, as a senior team, is a commitment to excellence, a passion for our community first, a passion for our patients second and a passion for health care third,” Saal said.

“It’s amazing how much we’ve done,” Saal added. “I couldn’t be prouder of all our work.”

Saal was chief of the division of cardiology and president of the medical staff at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge for 30 years before coming to Northampton.

“I’m going to miss Cooley and the Pioneer Valley more than anyone can imagine,” Saal said.

Bechtold’s final day will be Feb. 3, said Julia Sorensen, spokeswoman for Cooley Dickinson.

Like Saal, Bechtold arrived in January 2015, after serving as the senior vice president and chief nurse executive for MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Washington.

“Kate is pursuing other opportunities aligned with her interest in nursing strategy,” Sorensen said.

Bechtold was not available to comment on her decision.

Though important members of the senior leadership team are leaving, Sorensen said, officials are confident the hospital will continue to meet its mission to the community.

“We are working to develop interim plans to make this transition as smooth as possible,” Sorensen said.

The process will include establishing needs going forward and determining the best interim and long-term structure.

Sorensen said there are strong teams across all facets of the hospital operation who will continue to fulfill the commitment to those who need services.

“Patients should not notice any difference,” Sorensen said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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