Erlanger Health System's 11-member board of trustees has voted to move its budget and finance committee chair Jim Coleman into the board's top position.
The vote was unanimous. Coleman replaces outgoing chair Linda Moss Mines, who stepped down from the leadership role, saying she will "move back to a trustee seat with increased appreciation for this institution that is fundamental to this community."
Coleman, who has more than 25 years of industry experience and is president and CEO of a rural hospital management firm, joined the board of the public health system in November 2019.
Mines, a retired educator and Hamilton County historian, served two years at the board's helm and was appointed to the board in 2015 by the Hamilton County legislative delegation.
Mines told the Times Free Press after Thursday's meeting that she debated serving a third year as chair, but Coleman is "brilliant" when it comes to understanding hospital operations and finance.
"I think two terms is appropriate," she said.
Mines led the public hospital board through a management transition and much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The last two years have been incredibly difficult for the medical staff, for the leadership and truly for the board of this hospital," she said during the meeting. "We have joined forces to battle a pandemic while continuing to deliver critical medical care to this community and all of its citizens with skill and with compassion."
Mines made Erlanger history as board chair on a team of all-woman officers. Vice-chair Sheila Boyington and secretary Vicky Gregg - neither of whom were physically present at the meeting - will remain in their officer roles on the board.
Mines told the Times Free Press that vice-chair Boyington, who participated in Thursday's meeting via phone, did not want to be considered for the chair position because her full-time job as co-founder and president of Thinking Media requires her to travel a lot.
Gregg, who as the former CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has health care industry expertise, didn't want to be considered for the Erlanger chair role because she's already chair of the EPB board, Mines said.
"Both of them are highly skilled - either of them would've made a great board chair - but neither one of them felt like they could fulfill the duty," Mines said. "Jim Coleman, because he's the finance chair, because he's worked with small hospitals outside of Tennessee as a part of his regular business - and I think that each of us as trustees have the utmost respect for his intelligence and also for his calm, rational reason - I think he's going to be an excellent board chair. I'm looking forward to serving alongside him."
As budget and finance committee chair, Coleman has assisted in Erlanger's back-to-back years of improved financial performance. He has shepherded key resolutions before the board, such as the plan to stabilize Erlanger's underfunded pension by suspending the option for retirees to take their benefit in a lump sum upon retirement.
Though she is stepping down as chair, Mines thanked her peers for choosing her to lead, saying she "will always reflect on these two years with a grateful heart."
Erlanger trustees are volunteers who serve without compensation. With the exception of the chief of staff, who is elected by the medical staff and serves a two-year term, they are appointed for an initial term of four years and may serve for no more than eight consecutive years.
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