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Atrium’s top 11 execs had total comp of $26M in ’20

Atrium Health disclosed its executive compensation yesterday with a release to the media noting that “because of our strong leadership, Atrium Health has stood strong and showed extraordinary agility in navigating the unknown and unprecedented.”

The not-for-profit authority, which mainly competes with Novant Health in its key Charlotte and Winston-Salem markets, said it provided a combined more than $26 million in compensation to its 11 highest-paid executives. The system release praised the hospital’s response to the pandemic including expanding virtual medicine programs to more than 50,000 patients and distributing 2.1 million face masks.

Atrium received about $300 million in federal stimulus money last year to offset costs of treating COVID-19 patients. The system employs about 70,000 people.

The disclosure makes clear the Atrium board’s support for CEO Eugene Woods, whose annual compensation has increased by 30% from $6.1 million in fiscal 2018 to $7.9 million last year. He joined Atrium in April 2016 and led its collaborations with Macon, Ga.-based Navicent Health and Winston-Salem-based Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine.

“As Atrium Health aspires to be a nationally leading academic health care system that will guide the health care field as it goes through the most transformative period in our lifetime, the executive team has guided and directed the system with skilled and steady leadership,” the system said in the release.

Like other hospitals, Atrium suffered financially because of the extra costs of treating COVID-19 patient and periodic postponement of elective surgeries. Congress approved relief payments to help health care providers avoid more significant fiscal problems.

Atrium executive pay is approved by the system’s board, made up of about 25 influential Charlotte-area business, civic and medical leaders. Their appointments are approved by the Mecklenburg County Commission.

About 13 not-for-profit hospitals paid their top earner more than $5 million annually, according to a 2019 Forbes magazine report. Carl Armato, CEO of Novant Health, the second-biggest N.C. system, received $4.1 million in 2019 compensation, the Winston-Salem Journal reported in November. He’s been CEO since 2012.

Ninfa Saunders, who stepped down last year as head of the system’s Macon hospital, was the second-highest paid executive at Atrium with compensation of $4.16 million. CFO Anthony DeFurio, Charlotte Region President Ken Haynes and Chief Physician Executive Scott Rissmiller each received more than $2 million in pay last year.

Atrium also reported that its four market presidents received annual compensation ranging from about $840,000 to $960,000 last year. MIchael Lutes oversees Anson, Pineville and Union hospitals. Vicki Block is in charge of the flagship Carolinas Medical Center. Brian Gwyn oversees the Cleveland, Lincoln and Kings Mountain hospitals. And Christopher Bowe is in charge of Cabarrus, University City and Stanly sites.

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