In a statement released to the Journal, WellStar spokesperson Michelle Robinson said: "WellStar Health System has accepted the resignation of Richard Lopes, M.D., senior vice president and president of the WellStar Medical Group, effective March 21. By mutual agreement, Ron Strachan, senior vice president and chief information officer, has also left the organization effective March 21. As with all personnel matters, no further details will be provided."
No mention of the changes was made during WellStar's last Board of Trustees meeting, on March 3.
In September, WellStar's board fired WellStar CEO Dr. Greg Simone. At the time, board chairman Randall Bentley, a Marietta attorney, said only that "it was time for a change."
Simone received a severance agreement - including two years of salary plus retirement and other compensation - of $2.76 million. A statement released by WellStar on Sept. 2 also noted that the system had chosen not to renew the contract of Bonnie Wilson, WellStar's executive vice president and general counsel, leading some to speculate about a possible romantic relationship between Simone and Wilson, an accusation Simone dismissed as "a vicious rumor."
In January WellStar hired health care attorney and Marietta resident Leo Reichert as the system's new executive vice president and general counsel.
WellStar spokesman Keith Bowermaster said while the work responsibilities of Lopes and Strachan had ended, they will remain employed until June 20. Severance terms are yet to be determined but will be consistent with their respective employment contracts, he said.
Lopes was hired on April 5, 2010, while Strachan was hired in March 31, 2008. Strachan earned a salary of $288,766 a year, while Lopes earned $562,660 a year.
Their offices were at the WellStar Administration Building on Sandy Plains Road in Marietta.
WellStar has retained a search firm to find a replacement for Simone.
"The position is now being marketed nationwide, and we hope to have candidates within the next few months," Bowermaster said. "WellStar's goal is to have a new president and CEO in place by the end of June."
WellStar's interim CEO, Jim Budzinski, who earns an annual salary of $444,267, has applied for the position, Bowermaster said.