10 Things you Didn’t Know about CHS CEO Wayne Smith

Wayne T. Smith is the current Chief Executive Officer of Community Health Systems, a Fortune 500 company with its headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. Franklin is an important part of the larger Nashville Metropolitan Area, so you often find it referred to as a part of the city of Nashville. CHS is currently the largest provider of general hospital healthcare services in the United States when measuring it by the number of available acute care facilities. As of December 31, 2016, it was reported that the company owned, leased, or operated 158 hospitals in 22 states. However that number has dwindled, in part due to the decisions of the somewhat controversial Smith.

1. He was the former president of Humana.

Humana, which has long been one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States, was the committed home for Smith for more than 23 years. He also served as its Chief Operating Officer prior to moving on.

2. He was an officer in the Army.

Smith had a useful background prior to entering the world of insurance as he was a captain in the U.S. Army’s Medical Service Corps. After being discharged, he took up an interest in the medical insurance industry and proceeded to apply to Humana where he got his first post-military job.

3. He has a $1.6 million annual salary as the CEO of CHS.

He has had the same salary for the past three years as CEO, not including bonus compensation, health benefits, and the usual set of corporate perks. The reasons for this stagnant annual salary is said to be directly related to his indifferent performance as CEO.

4. Smith missed his CEO financial and operating targets in 2016.

In a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission, it was revealed that Smith only was able to reach 13 percent of his performance goals as CEO, which included both his financial and operational targets. Despite this somewhat remarkable failure, Smith still took home a $640,000 performance bonus. This disproportional reward caught the eye of stakeholders.

5. He has been the target of considerable criticism from employees, healthcare critics, and stakeholders.

After three years at the helm, Smith’s current strategy is to make CHS more profitable through the sale of existing hospitals and a rumored reduction in employees and executives. Current estimates have him planning to lay off more than 200 people before the end of the year. The goal is to reduce expenses with the result of increasing Smith’s performance numbers.

6. Smith started out with the annual revenue of CHS at $740 million.

By the time 2010 rolled around, Smith had increased that number to $13 billion. Smith is largely credited with the company’s explosive growth, particularly because a significant part of that growth took place in the very difficult economic times of the Great Recession.

7. He is active in local politics.

At the company’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, he is involved as a speaker and advocate of healthcare solutions in the state. He was a vocal advocate for expanding the use of Medicaid in the state in 2016, and contributes as both a speaker and opinion leader at the Nashville Business Journal.

8. He was awarded honors as an entrepreneur in three different states.

During its developmental years, Smith led CHS to industry competitiveness, earning him the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award honors for three different states: Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. This was during the very challenging times of the Great Recession, making the achievement even more remarkable.

9. He has a Lifetime Achievement Award to his credit.

Auburn University, Smith’s alma mater where he earned a bachelor’s degree in and a master’s degree in, voted to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his consistent efforts in business and his commitment to the university after graduating. Added to this list are his civic involvements beyond politics, which include the Nashville Area Chamber Of Commerce, the Nashville Health Care Council, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the Center of Medical Interoperability.

10. In the end, he is an enigma that is not someone who is easy to form an opinion on.

Smith demonstrates loyalty, commitment to excellence, and the ability to turn around a business in short order. But since 2011, after achieving what is perhaps his greatest success, he apparently has tanked, with the result of making employees pay for his mistakes. What his legacy is remains up in the air.


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