At a special meeting Thursday, Carolinas HealthCare System’s board of commissioners will consider the recommendation of Eugene “Gene” Woods, a hospital executive from Texas, to become the new CEO to replace the retiring Michael Tarwater.
Woods was in Charlotte on Wednesday and was introduced to health care leaders at a reception in the home of Edward Brown, chairman of the Carolinas HealthCare board, according to a source who attended the event but asked not to be named.
The board is expected to vote Thursday morning at a 7 o’clock meeting that was called “to consider the qualifications of a prospective employee and discuss the pending appointment of a new senior executive,” according to a hospital notice.
Spokeswoman Amy Murphy said Wednesday that she “can’t confirm that there will be an announcement. The board has to go through a process.” But if there is an announcement, she said a news conference will be held at 8 a.m. in Gorelick Auditorium at Levine Children’s Hospital.
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Woods, who has more than 30 years of experience in hospital and health system administration, has been president and chief operating officer of CHRISTUS Health, a nonprofit system based in Irving, Texas, since June 2011. He oversees operation of more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities, with 175 clinics and outpatient centers, and 30,000 employees in the United States and Mexico, according to the system's website.
Woods is president-elect of the American Hospital Association. Before going to Texas, he was chief executive officer of Saint Joseph Health System in Lexington, Ky., part of Catholic Health Initiatives, the nation’s second-largest Catholic health care system. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
Tarwater, 62, has led Carolinas HealthCare since 2002, when he replaced his mentor Harry Nurkin, who had taken over as chief executive of what was then called Charlotte Memorial Hospital in 1981.
Nurkin started, and Tarwater continued, the transformation from a single, financially troubled charity hospital to a sprawling, profitable health care system with $8 billion in annual revenue, about 40 hospitals and 60,000 employees across the Carolinas.
Earlier this month, Carolinas HealthCare released 2015 figures on total compensation for its top executives. Tarwater, one of the highest-paid hospital executives in the country, received $6.6 million in salary, bonuses and benefits in his last full year as CEO. That was an increase of 26 percent over the previous year’s $5.3 million.
Tarwater announced last summer that he would retire in June 2016. The hospital system board’s compensation committee served as the search committee for Tarwater’s replacement, and the board hired a national executive search firm, Witt/Kieffer, to evaluate candidates. At a recent board meeting, search committee chairman Albert McAulay Jr. said Witt/Kieffer had developed “a terrific group of candidates.”