Story on Mis­sion Health CEO’s pay made in­cor­rect con­clu­sions

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

We are re­spond­ing to the cover story in the Aug. 11 is­sue (“CEO pay still soar­ing,” p. 8). As the elected of­fi­cers of the med­i­cal staff at Mis­sion Hos­pi­tal, we feel the need for to cor­rect mis­lead­ing data pub­lished in this ar­ti­cle—data that falsely con­cludes our health sys­tem’s CEO, Dr. Ron­ald Paulus, re­ceived more than a 200% pay in­crease. He did not.

As the au­thor points out, “av­er­age work­ers” in the hos­pi­tal en­vi­ron­ment have been get­ting a very low pay rate in­crease, and in to­day’s hos­pi­tal en­vi­ron­ment face po­ten­tial lay­offs na­tion­wide. Given this fi­nan­cial land­scape, to claim that Paulus re­ceived a 231% pay hike is not only fac­tu­ally er­ro­neous, but is de­struc­tive to morale at our hos­pi­tal. The fol­low­ing are the rel­e­vant facts:

Paulus joined Mis­sion Health in Septem­ber 2010. He was paid for only four months in 2010 and his base com­pen­sa­tion was cor­rectly re­ported as $226,497 in the 2010 IRS Form 990 that the re­porter ap­par­ently used for the ar­ti­cle. Un­for­tu­nately, this was re­ported as the to­tal base com­pen­sa­tion for 2011. An­nu­al­ized, this base com­pen­sa­tion would have been $745,432.

The base com­pen­sa­tion re­ported in the fol­low­ing year on the Form 990 was $749,748 as re­ported in the ar­ti­cle as com­pen­sa­tion for 2012.

The ac­tual in­crease us­ing an­nu­al­ized salary num­bers from the two years is $4,316, less than 1%.

All of the data, in­clud­ing dates of em­ploy­ment, are avail­able in the pub­lic do­main (IRS 990s from 2009 to 2011). To not con­firm such a spec­tac­u­lar in­crease in base salary is not ap­pro­pri­ate jour­nal­is­tic due dili­gence.

Ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle, the re­porter spoke to sev­eral health­care ex­ec­u­tives for the ar­ti­cle, but did not con­tact any­one from Mis­sion Hos­pi­tal to check the fac­tual ba­sis for the “big­gest core salary win­ner” in 2012. Had the re­porter done so, she would have learned that not only was the re­ported salary in­crease not cor­rect, but that:

Paulus was com­pen­sated at a rate sub­stan­tially lower than the re­ported $2.2 mil­lion av­er­age for CEOs in 2012.

Paulus and the other top ex­ec­u­tives to the di­rec­tor level at Mis­sion Health bud­geted no in­cen­tive pay­ments for 2014 out of re­spect for the fi­nan­cial con­cerns fac­ing the hos­pi­tals in our sys­tem. In Paulus’ case, this would be a min­i­mum of $340,000 for this year.

In the four years from Septem­ber 2010 through Septem­ber 2014, Paulus sup­ported the sys­tem—in­clud­ing the Em­ployee As­sis­tance Fund—with di­rect giv­ing, per­sonal support and for­mal pledges of more than $780,000. This amount is greater than his base salary in fis­cal 2011.

Dr. Alan John­son, chief of staff

Dr. David Jar­rett, vice chief of staff

Dr. Stephen Hill, as­so­ciate chief of staff, cre­den­tials

Dr. Janet Gar­rett, as­so­ciate chief of staff, peer re­view

Mis­sion Hos­pi­tal Asheville, N.C.

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