An excellent article in the December third New YorkTimes by Elisabeth Rosenthal pointed out what many of us have known for a long time. She cited the five million dollar salary of the CEO of the for profit Sutter health care system in California and the one million dollar salary for the CEO of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. The latter hospital was formerly the hospital for Stanford Medical School before it was moved to Palo Alto. As a medical student there and later having my office at the hospital for two years, I know the hospital well. I was glad to move my office after about two years because I began to see how money and not patient care were becoming so important to the administrators.
It is appalling that the doctors who truly care about their patients, and not how much money they can make, work long hours for far less money than a CEO makes. Yet CEO's don't have patients' lives in their hands and if they make a mistake, there are probably twenty-five or more other administrators who can correct their mistake. When I was asked to start a program for kids with special needs at St Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco, the four hundred bed Catholic hospital had one excellent administrator, who was a nun. After she was moved up to a prestigious new position in the Catholic community more and more adminstrators were added. All were paid excellent salaries. When our program and many others were closed four years later, there were at least 30 administrators and the hospital was not as well run as it had been under the nun. I hope the new Health Care law will put some limits on the salaries of hospital CEOs'. There is just no way they deserve a million or more dollars in salaries.