5 questions with Carolinas HealthCare's new CEO

Eugene A. Woods will succeed Michael C. Tarwater as president and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolinas HealthCare at the end of April.

Mr. Woods has 24 years of healthcare experience. He has held several senior leadership roles in large-scale health systems, his most recent including president and COO of Irving, Texas-based CHRISTUS Health, which operates 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities, 175 clinics and outpatient centers and 30,000 associates. He previously served as CEO of Saint Joseph Health System in Lexington, Ky., part of Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives, as well as COO of the Washington Hospital Center, a 968-bed teaching hospital in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Woods took the time to answer some of our questions on his recent appointment.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Question: What are your primary goals for your first year at the helm of Carolinas HealthCare System?

This is an organization that has seen so many successes over the years, and I appreciate the leadership Michael Tarwater has brought together with the rest of the team and board. With 60,000 health system associates and lots of physician partners, I will be spending time listening to them about their aspirations for the future. This organization has the opportunity to set standards in so many ways for clinical excellence. My main goals will be to listen and learn and chart a course for the future together with our more than 60,000 associates.

Q: What do you hope to learn from Mr. Tarwater before he leaves the system in June?

He has 35 years of experience as a leader. He is respected nationally and is an important figure in the community. He has been very focused on getting to know major leaders in North and South Carolina. From him, I hope to understand the journey this organization has been on and use that knowledge as a platform to create its future.

Q: What leadership experiences or skills do you bring to the table?

I've been in every type of health system setting: for-profit, nonprofit, faith-based, regional and national systems. I've had the opportunity to implement strategies that span 20 states and three different countries internationally.

Q: How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

The healthcare field is so complex right now that no one can think they can do it by themselves. My philosophy is to try to tap into the talents and gifts of as many leaders and people as possible because there is a lot of wisdom on the frontlines and in the communities of physicians.

Q: What about living in Charlotte (NC) makes you most excited?

It seems like everyone in Charlotte is an ambassador. It feels like there are just 100 people here — everyone is so community-minded and they care about one another deeply. My wife and family and I were looking for a place that we could call home 15 years from now. Everything you hear about the good old Southern charm and hospitality [is what] you see here, at every corner. The beaches and mountains are also gorgeous.

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