Trusted Experience: Dorothy M. Urschel

Dr. Urschel puts her heart and soul into everything she does.

Dorothy Urschel, DNP, new president and CEO of Columbia Memorial HealthHer heart has been in health care from the very beginning of her career. It began in western New York, where she was a critical care nurse and thoracic surgery nurse practitioner at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Later, she became an acute care cardiac surgery nurse practitioner with Kaleida Health in Buffalo.

“I never lost touch with my experience at the bedside,” Dr. Urschel said. “It connects me with our patients and providers. The moments they share define who we are.”

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 seen the many sides of health care delivery, from direct patient care to administrative functions, from local and system levels. Dr. Urschel came to our region in 2007, to join St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. 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.

In 2020, Dr. Urschel entered the CMH family 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 for Care One: our work to implement a single electronic medical record (EMR) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) program across the Albany Med Health System. 

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 will work alongside, and be an integral part of, the Albany Med Health System team. 

“Dorothy’s demonstrated leadership in patient care, administration, and system integration position her perfect to lead Columbia Memorial Health,” 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 standing 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.”

Dr. Urschel has touched each facet of our System mission: patient care, research, and education. In addition to her nursing and administrative roles, she has held academic positions at the University at Buffalo and Daemen University in Amherst. Her clinical research and writing have been cited in numerous professional publications. Recognized for her community commitment in 2017, she was honored by the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region with its Resourceful Woman award.

Her personal pursuits provide some balance and an opportunity to recharge. When not at CMH, Dr. Urschel is at the piano, playing the classical compositions of Beethoven or Mozart, or a pop rock hit from today. There’s nothing quite like an upstate New York summer, and Dr. Urschel enjoys them most from her kayak, paddling through the light chop on Lake Ontario.

“Every note on the keyboard, and every turn of the paddle ground me to the purpose of our work,” she said. “It’s the actions of our skilled providers that advance the health of our community and allow each patient to live to their fullest potential. Our work makes a difference. It brings joy to the people we serve.”