Ex-chief's position at Erlanger is unclear

Ex-chief's position at Erlanger is unclear

April 18th, 2013 by Kate Harrison Belz in Local Regional News

Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

WOODARD-THOMPSON'S CAREER AT ERLANGER

* June 1992 -- Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson joins the staff at Erlanger.

* March 2003 -- Woodard-Thompson, chief of human resources, is appointed interim Erlanger CEO after Dennis Pettigrew resigns. She holds the position until Jim Brexler is hired as CEO in 2004. She then becomes senior vice president and chief operating officer.

* November 2011 -- Trustees appoint Woodard-Thompson to be interim CEO after Brexler resigns.

* December 2012 -- A large group of physicians and members of the black community attend Erlanger's board meeting and speak in support of Woodard-Thompson after learning she has been cut from the CEO short list.

* February 2013 -- Trustees vote to appoint Kevin Spiegel as the hospital's next CEO.

* April 2013 -- Woodard-Thompson goes on paid leave; her position with the hospital is unclear.

Source: Erlanger Health System, Times Free Press archives

Photos of Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson, Erlanger hospital's two-time interim CEO, are no longer on the hospital's leadership Web page. Her portrait is no longer in the hospital's main hallway.

It's unclear if the longtime Erlanger executive has left the hospital permanently, or if she will return to work under new CEO Kevin Spiegel, who started April 1.

Officially, Woodard-Thompson is on a leave of absence, said Gregg Gentry, chief administrative officer.

He would not say how long Woodard-Thompson's leave will be, why she took leave, whether she plans to return to Erlanger or what position she will hold if she returns.

Woodard-Thompson did not return messages requesting comment Wednesday.

As interim CEO, Woodard-Thompson answered to the hospital's board of trustees. Board Chairman Ron Loving said he did not want to comment on her current status.

"I believe this is a human resources issue," he said.

Hospital officials also would not clarify whether Woodard-Thompson is on paid leave, with Gentry saying only: "As with all of its employees, Erlanger's standard leave-of-absence pay practices apply to Ms. Woodard-Thompson."

On its website, the hospital outlines some guidelines for employees applying for "Family/Medical/Maternity leave."

If approved, employees may use accrued annual leave in case of a medical health condition, or take unpaid leave.

As interim CEO, Woodard-Thompson earned an annual salary of $486,720.

Woodard-Thompson has been with the hospital for nearly 21 years, holding the positions of both chief of human resources and chief operating officer.

When she first was appointed interim CEO after Dennis Pettigrew's departure in 2003, she was the first woman to serve in the position.

Eight years later, she was appointed to the role again after then-CEO Jim Brexler resigned in 2011. She held the job for a year, and later applied for the permanent position.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.