Chairman Jim Coleman accepts Erlanger CEO position

Jim Coleman, chairman of the Erlanger Health System Board of Trustees, will leave that position and take over as the health system's president and CEO effective July 11.

In a letter sent Friday morning to Erlanger employees, Coleman announced he had accepted the board's one-year, $625,000 contract offer to assume the CEO role vacated by former CEO Dr. Will Jackson, who left Erlanger on June 10.

The contract was presented and unanimously approved at a public board meeting Thursday evening.

"The opportunity to serve and lead this organization is deeply meaningful to me. Being from Cleveland, Tennessee, and working a significant portion of my career in this market, I personally know how important Erlanger Health System is to our community and the broader region," Coleman said in the letter. "My dedication to the physicians and employees of Erlanger runs deep. I look forward to working with everyone in the organization to successfully move Erlanger further along the path of improvement, stability and growth."

Coleman's contract does not include participation in the management incentive plan but would allow him to make up to 30% of his salary - amounting to $187,500 - as a one-time bonus if he meets goals of successfully transitioning the hospital to a private nonprofit organization, improving physician relations and increasing hospital bed capacity.

His $625,000 base salary is the same starting salary given to Jackson when he became CEO in September 2019. Jackson's deal included a one-time bonus of $50,000, which he ultimately received, for meeting three goals in his first year as CEO.

At Thursday's meeting, trustees said that they wanted to tap Coleman as the health system's new CEO due to his industry experience and knowledge of the regional market. In the past, Coleman worked in management at Erlanger and several other area health systems.

The board's bylaws used to contain conflict of interest provisions that barred trustees from being employed by or contracting with Erlanger until at least two years after the trustee's service is complete, without exceptions.

That provision was added under pressure from a local lawmaker after a former Erlanger CEO held contract discussions with trustees, who are politically appointed and charged with acting as independent fiduciaries of the health system.

But in March, trustees amended their bylaws to allow board members to be employed by or contract with the hospital in certain "extraordinary circumstances."

The board's attorney said at the time that "mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, reorganizations or restructurings" qualify as extraordinary circumstances and the change was needed to allow for flexibility as the board works to transition Erlanger from a government entity to a private, nonprofit business model. Coleman and board Secretary Vicky Gregg have led that effort.

Now that Coleman is leaving the board, Board Vice Chairwoman Sheila Boyington will assume the role of chairwoman.

Coleman was appointed to the Erlanger board by Hamilton County's legislative delegation in November 2019, two months after Jackson became CEO. Members of the delegation will now have the option to appoint a replacement trustee.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at or 423-757-6673. Follow her on Twitter @ecfite.