Carolinas HealthCare System announced Tuesday it is eliminating the position of president and chief operating officer – the second in command to CEO Michael Tarwater.
As a result, Joe Piemont, 60, the system’s current president and COO, will be leaving as of May 31, according to a statement from the system.
The elimination of Piemont’s position was announced about two hours after a special board meeting Tuesday morning.
Neither board members nor CEO Michael Tarwater were available for comment. When the meeting began, at 7 a.m. at Carolinas Medical Center, the board voted immediately to go into a private, executive session. And after meeting for about 80 minutes, the board went into open session again and immediately adjourned.
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Piemont has been with the hospital system for 18 years and received total compensation of $3.5 million in 2014.
From 2002 to 2007, Carolinas HealthCare did not have anyone serving in the position of COO. Piemont joined the system in 1997 and held multiple senior-level positions before becoming president and COO in 2007.
Last year, Piemont was one of the executives who helped carry out cutbacks that eliminated more than 100 management positions as part of a goal to trim $110 million in expenses from the 2015 budget. Two executive vice president positions were eliminated in the last three years.
With Piemont’s departure, five executives will now report directly to Tarwater. They are: Paul Franz, executive vice president-regional group; John Knox, executive vice president and chief administrative officer; Debra Plousha Moore, executive vice president and chief human resources officer; Dennis Phillips, executive vice president-metro group, and Keith Smith, executive vice president and general counsel.
The system’s statement said: “This latest change follows the restructuring last fall that helped to streamline the management structure, allowing CHS to become more nimble and enabling the system to better respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead. Last year’s structural changes also created a shift in scope and responsibility within its senior leadership team. After careful thought and evaluation, it was determined that the position of chief operating officer is no longer necessary and will be eliminated.”
Before joining Carolinas HealthCare, Piemont was president and chief executive officer of Coastal Physicians Group, Inc. and was general counsel for AMRESCO, Inc. He graduated from UNC Charlotte and Emory University School of Law.