Healthcare Administrator Salaries and the French Fireplace

stress salary

A few days ago, I had the great pleasure to visit some good friends from the hospital for lunch. They are good, hard-working people; salt of the earth. It bothered me how hard they work and how they seem to get so little back for their work, and I mentioned that to them. It led us into an interesting conversation about how much the admin people are making at our local community hospital – I think I hurt my jaw when it hit the floor.

I am not naive when it comes to the outrageous salaries that health-care administrators (CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s and all the other acronyms they make up to take more money for nothing) seek to justify to themselves, but most people tend to think of these overblown salaries as belonging to Wall Street types in big cities; not your run of the mill smaller town.

So, I was quite surprised to learn that the CEO at our hospital pays himself close to a half million dollars per year. All while cutting nursing hours, chastising docs about overtime hours and outright terminating other direct patient care personnel positions for “cost savings”. The CFO also gets a healthy paycheck, closer to a quarter million though. He once told the hospital staff that they always have to go for the best in patient care, kind of like when he couldn’t decide on importing an $80,000 fireplace from France or buying an American one for under 10 grand. He decided that he should go for the “best” and went ahead and imported the French one in the end. He probably should have ordered a mail-order brain and conscience while he was at it.

This prompted me to look into the whole issue of the hospital administrator fleecing of America. I found many intriguing details that just nauseated me in general, but none better then the following concise post written by Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum on his Mad About Medicine blog. I will quote just one paragraph here for your benefit:

… the next time you want to argue with your Primary Care doctor’s front desk about a $5.00 co-pay, remember that he makes an average of $149,000 per year. On the other hand — using United Healthcare as an example — your insurance company paid their CEO — one man — [324 million dollars] over a recent five year period.

He then goes on to list 23 health-care CEO’s salaries – mostly those of insurance companies and drug manufacturers – and their published 2005 salary as well as 5-year combined income. The “poorest” guy in the bunch, James Tobin of Cardinal Health, made “only” $1.1 million in 2005, but he had a good 5-year period over-all, making $33.5 million (or just under $7 million/year). Poor James, what ever will he do to keep up with the Joneses?

Inevitably though, discussions like this lead to some people praising the wonders of capitalism and warning against the evil of “socialism”. At the end of the day though, it is balance and moderation which saves a society.

Our hospital will certainly go down, as it eventually must with these crotch stains at the helm. At that time, I seriously doubt that the hundreds of people out of the job will be giving a damn one way or the other about political ideologies as they join the masses screwed out of their job by corporate greed as they try to figure out how they will put food on the table.

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8 Responses to Healthcare Administrator Salaries and the French Fireplace

  1. Wanderer says:

    Our newest CEOs asked the ICU manager if she had any advice for him as she had been in our system for many years. She said, “Don’t have your Porsche delivered to the System Office.”

    Before, my manager had to justify overages to clinical people who understood patient care, but now she has to do that the financial folks who only see numbers and can’t comprehend why one might need an extra nurse above and beyond what the numbers call for because we’re getting overwhelmed.

    Ever notice, that when the lay-offs hit, it’s always the patient care folks, rarely do administrative staff get the pink slips…

  2. idahokat says:

    “He probably should have ordered a mail-order brain and conscious while he was at it.”

    I think he was already conscious when ordering that fancy fireplace, but maybe a conscience is what he needed for ordering to accompany an order of a brain 😉

  3. Tunde says:

    Well, well people. I thought everyone knew that true CEO’s don’t really care for a “conscience”, unless they are those rare species who actually give a damn about their workers. They do exist but they usually can’t keep their jobs too long.

  4. Nurse K says:

    I told my boss’ boss (VP) to run up to the doc’s lounge to grab me a Diet Coke today. He did it, hehe.

  5. […] Healthcare Administrator Salaries and the French Fireplace « ER … […]

  6. Dr. Grumpy says:

    Agree with above.

    Next time you’re having chest pain, call the hospital adminstrator to come help. Make him earn that salary.

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