Hospital overpaying its top executives | November 9, 2007 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - November 9, 2007

Hospital overpaying its top executives

by Bill Krepick

The recent action by the El Camino Hospital board to approve huge salaries and bonuses for the top 10 hospital executives is unconscionable. The board spent over $100,000 to have several consultants help justify their decision, but they failed to use a 'reasonableness test' when awarding the bloated salaries.

At least seven of the 10 VP-level administrative jobs can be done by talented individuals from for-profit organizations — both health care related and general business related. There is no way anyone can claim that nonprofit hospital experience is required for the following VP jobs and salaries: finance/accounting ($410,000); business development ($307,000); fund raising and PR ($291,000); facilities services ($271,000); HR ($267,000); corporate and community health services ($254,000); and payor relations ($217,000).

These salaries — which include base pay and incentives as paid out two weeks ago by the board — do not include benefits, which are almost 30 percent of base pay. Comparables for these jobs should include a broad cross section of Bay Area businesses — not a limited set of nationwide nonprofit hospitals.

Having run a $200 million-plus software business, my experience suggests that the salaries being paid to ECH professionals in these jobs are at least 25 to 30 percent above the salaries paid to Bay Area professionals for comparable VP-level jobs in general business. I believe that for-profit hospitals also pay substantially lower salaries.

In considering salary levels for its executives, the board should have taken into account the fact that in the past four to five years there has been almost zero turnover in the executive staff at ECH. If the ECH executives were so woefully underpaid, why wasn't there substantial turnover as executives sought out higher paying jobs? I believe the answer is because the ECH executives place very high value on the collegial atmosphere, the comfortable setting where there is little pressure from either the CEO or the board, and the generous compensation packages.

When the board hired Ken Graham as CEO 15 months ago, he accepted a very generous offer, and the board made sure he was paid "at the market" by having the executive recruiter research CEO comparables. How can they now say that, with a $904,000 total compensation package, he is underpaid? Annual cost-of-living increases should not amount to more than 4 to 5 percent in this market.

The board and the hospital staff are to be commended for the number of quality awards earned by the hospital, but they should be putting equal focus on performance and efficiency in health care delivery. They should be doing some soul searching and thinking about how taxpayers and other ECH employees will react to these extraordinary salaries.

As Robin Iwai pointed out in an opinion piece last week in the Voice, teachers are paid at between one fifth and one tenth of what hospital administrators earn. Apparently El Camino Hospital executives and the board believe that nonprofit hospital workers should profit from the support of taxpayers and donors.

Bill Krepick lives on Meadow Lane.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2007 at 9:00 am

The El Camino Hospital District Board has a long history of fiscal irresponsibility. This is just the latest example. They have a history of approving stock options from hospital vendors to administrators. For years, their CEO appointed his own compensation committee. Former Board Member Dominick Curatola was on this committee to decide Lee Domanico's compensation. During that time, the Hospital built a new office building where Dominick Curatola, MD leased an office. To top it off, the Board worked on a new Heart and Vascular Institute for 4 years, committing $6 million dollars to the effort. Who is the first director? You got it - Dominick Curatola, MD! Get rid of the whole board.

Posted by Annoyed, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 10, 2007 at 5:41 pm

I've been reading about the Peyton Place of this hospital for years and all I can say is, I think Robert & Mr. Krepick should run for the board. It should be a hoot to see them in the hot seat and under attack every single day for stuff that was either done before they got there or never done at all. Really guys, please throw your hats into the ring at the next election, maybe Mr. Katz will come out from under his rock and support you, too.

You want to play politics in pleasing the staff, the patients, the community, the union, the local politicians, the slanted media AND operate the hospital under all of the many layers of legislation which change each and every day? Good for you! Go on down and put your names on the ballot so you can be elected and then work in an environment 24/7 serving people who are for the most part, come out only to criticize every action someone makes or doesn't make correctly in your eyes. You can deal with critics who are ungrateful, uneducated, self-entitled, self-righteous, know-nothings this side of the FoxNetworks and have nothing positive or helpful to say, but will armchair quarterback through a month of Mondays.

Please, jump right on in so you can deal with the folks who attack your place of work every day and make it positively horrendous to wake up in the morning knowing that saving lives and helping people get well isn't in the forefont of one's job, but rather, fending off a vicious press, or the same community members who write letters every day and visit meetings, or people who generally have nothing else to do except attack, condemn and vilify. Why deal with these folk? Because you would be there as an elected official and they feel you owe them something because you are a servant, rather than a healer in their eyes. The beauty of it is that you will not be allowed to defend yourself once you are in the public eye, you will get to sit there and let the press and anonymous posters, like myself, take pot shots at you. If I am lucky, others will join in and you will be stuck as you are insulted, degraded, and demoralized.

Please, the hospital would probably love to have you in their ranks as they have nothing else to worry about except nursing shortages, staff burnout, physicians shortages, insurance companies not paying their agreed rates, and the cost of building a hospital that the state says they needed to build. They could use you there to lift the morale of the employees and volunteers. I'm sure having your smiling and positive presence would make the hospital run so much better with your trust and caring that only you could convey each and every single time you bring up the hairs that have twisted the wrong way in your shorts. Because you've made such a name for yourself in the newspaper, message boards - no introductions would be necessary.

Seriously, join the line of the people breaking down the doors to get in line for those cush & cozy seats on the board. They are dying for someone like you two to take over with your honesty, frankness and level-headed civility.

Posted by Jan, a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2007 at 7:32 am

Thanks to Mr. Krepick for his tireless advocacy for patient care at El Camino Hospital. I second "Annoyed's" suggestion above that Mr. Krepick and others run for the Board. The salaries paid to hospital executives are way out of line, even though we do live in an expensive area. As has been documented in the press, El Camino Hospital charges the highest rates in the area for medical care. Why this Board continues to raise hospital rates even when they have "once in a lifetime profits" is unconscionable. I hope all the current Board members resign or get voted out of office.

Posted by Grace Metalious, a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2007 at 9:48 am

The El Camino Hospital District Board is just another "Peyton Place." Former Chairman and current Board Member Mark O'Connor has been in trouble with the law for crimes committed against a physician.