Washington Hospital CEO made nearly double next highest paid Bay Area public employee

Washington Hospital CEO Nacy Farber took home $876,831 last year. The next highest paid employee was Marin Healthcare CEO Lee Domanico at $498,000.Three of her subordinates were also in the top ten among Bay Area public employees, even though they make less than half what she made.

How is that possible. Read this story, which was in the Contra Costa Times and hopefully was also in Sunday’s Argus. For real, read it. Click here and read it.

Matt Artz


  1. Here’s where someone will pop up (Hey Gus – where are you ?) and say something warm and fuzzy like “I’m really pleased to have Washington Hospital and the professionals that work there when we need care.” OR “It’s a good institution.”

    And, of course, no one would question or challenge that kind of sentiment.

    THe inference is that somehow that the taxpayers that contribute to the Township Hospital receive something beneficial, something more for their dollar.

    But, you gotta ask yourself, are we receiving double the quality of care ? How are the taxes that Fremont citizens paying to WHS being used and what ADDITIONAL advantage to the Fremont taxpayers receive ?

    Are Fremonters unique in the quality of care they receive ? Can OTHERS who do not contribute to WHS (from a tax perspective) receive the same quality of care ?

    How are your taxes benefiting you and your community ? Are they used as efficiently and competitively as possible ?

  2. Not me, BBox. When I saw the data base, I looked at WHS first and found the $876K. Then I added the total salary for the three city managers and got $705K. I wanted to include then either the ACWD or USD manager, but they weren’t on the database.

    Next, I started looking at who else in the area made close to $876K and didn’t find many until I searched for those over $300K. There are 33, many of them physicians on contract to public hospitals, a couple of county administrators or managers of public agencies like EBMUD. But 7 of these 33 people are WHS employees, in fact 7 or the highest paid 27 public employees in the bay area are employees of Washington Hospital with salaries totalling more than $2,680,000.

    I will argue pay for performance all day, but an agency must be in some comparative market place and it doesn’t look like WHS has any idea what the regional market is.

  3. I doubt many think the wages of some of those people are anything but ridiculous ripoffs of the public. The question is, how does it change? People just don’t pay a lot of attention to the hospital election.

  4. “…an agency must be in some comparative market place and it doesn’t look like WHS has any idea what the regional market is.”

    Sorry Gus, but you government heads have bent over to labor demands so much that a city janitor gets paid 60K+ per year and a rookie firefighter/sleeper/E! Network Observer gets paid 130K per year.

    Are you all of a sudden concerned with pay because NOW a marginally skilled administrator is getting paid more than you were worth?

    I hate to put it so bluntly, Gus, but you’ve never argued for anything resembling “pay for performance”.

  5. Marty, My basic premise is that people ought to be paid what he job is worth. Cops are out on the street carrying weapons and have a huge degree of power. I want them to be the smartest, most rational, most reasonable people we can find. If that costs us $75K for an entry level position, it is worth it. Look what someone less qualified is going to cost BART.

    I also want trained, qualified people in professional positions, engineers, planners, administrators, etc and, again the market decides the salary range. I want the people responsible for maintaining our investment in streets, parks, and buildings to be highly qualified and responsible and their salaries and benefits are pretty much determined by prevailing wages paid to those professions in the area.

    And, we tend to forget that every city employee has a role in the emergency response system, fires, floods, and earthquakes put a demand on city employees which is not ever placed on private employers. I saw people from all over the city staff in the quake in 1989, in the big fire on the hills, and in the bad flood along Mission in the early 80’s. Not just fire and police, almost everyone.

    FYI, COF has no janitors. Custodial work is performed by a contractor who made the low bid. In past years, we have actually bid out park maintenance and private companies could not compete on a direct cost basis with the park maintenance organization.

    That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be efforts made to reduce costs. I think there ought to be discussion of a two-tier wage system for some positions, where new people start at a lower wage. And, we ought to keep looking for alternative ways to do thing and be willing to take the risk. I did it when we closed our fire dispatch and merged with Alameda County, saving close to a million a year. I did it when we closed fire stations rather than paying overtime to three people to keep them open.

    The hospital salaries which began this thread cannot be justified by any rational argument. You argue “union”, there is no union involved with these people. There is no overtime involved with any of them.

    Unlike you, I believe in government and believe its employees should be the best we can find and we ought to emunerate them appropriately. I find nothing appropriate with seven salaries between $320,000 and $876,000.

  6. Gosh, Gus – I wish I could find the last time I asked what Fremont residents got for the incremental tax they pay to WHS.

    YOUR response – was that we had a superior hospital that was beyond what a town like Fremont would otherwise command and you were glad they were there.

    There’s a lot of dough that flows into WHS. What do Fremont residents get for it ?

  7. The question really is, What can Fremont residents, taxpayers do to fix this problem. Do taxpayers have any control over a public agency such as W.H.
    What can be done to correct the, out of control management,of the hospital.

  8. Gus, I’m not talking cops, who earn their pay.

    FYI, park maintenance for the COF pulls in well over 60k plus benefits. This is more than the starting salary of a Ph.D. scientist. And with people like you at the helm, these employees have come to expect 18% yoy returns on their employer funded pensions.

    So, this has nothing to do with believing in government. If has to do with paying people what they’re worth, not what they can collectively extort.

    I have to say, with your thinking on this matter, I am glad you are out of office. And I surely hope the next generation of government leaders start representing their constituents over the interests of city employees.

  9. BBox, my earlier post dealt with why we have a hospital at all and I put it in a historical context when there was nothing here and residents had to go to Hayward or further. I don’t think I made any comment about WH performance.

    Marty, we probably will never agree and I have been out of the high tech industry for 15 years, so I don’t know what PhDs start at, but I have to bet it is much higher than 50K. I looked at the data for Fremont for maintenance workers and they average about 60K. Put in context, median family income in Fremont is over 100K and the feds classify income levels by percentage of median, with 60K considered low income for a family of 4.

    Also, consider that people have been laid off because of funding problems and the current employees are probably higher seniority people who have reached the top step of their salary range. And, statistically over the whole country street maintenance is the most dangerous job in a city.

  10. Gus, Comparing one 60K salaried worker to the 100K household median in Fremont is disingenuous. I am shocked that I even have to explain this to an ex mayor, but:

    If both members of a household work for Fremont park maintenance, which is a low-tier job in Fremont, then they bring in 120K per year which is 20K more than the median. So, the lowest paid workers in Fremont pull in more money than the people supporting those jobs. How in the world is this sustainable?

    It boggles my mind that you don’t understand this. And, we’re not even bringing up the gold plated benefits and retirement packages.

  11. I agree you pay for what you get and WHS does not deliver quality care on any measure that would justify that kind of salary level. After several misdiagnoses at WHS (I do have apology letters and was not charged) I go anywhere but WHS – Palo Alto medical or even Stanford. WHS delivery poor care for high cost and does the community a disservice.

  12. Unfortunately, I have to agree with John.

    My son received an EGREGIOUS misdiagnosis at WH and several members of my family have been hospitalized there (as have I) and each time I was dismayed by the quality of the staff, the cleanliness, etc.

    The fact that this woman makes nearly $1M a year is abhorrent.

  13. Matt Artz –

    A suggestion that I think would benefit the BLOG would be to expand on the number of allowed “RECENT COMMENTS” – which is (randomly) set at 4 right now.

    The impact of this is that comments on any one topic can readilly get buried by just a few responses to another related topic . . . . There’s plenty of room on the page in that left hand column – I’d suggest to your sysadmin or webmaster that you expand the number to maybe 10 ( like the “RECENT POSTS” summary).

  14. Bbox, I’ll pass along your suggession. I don’t control that stuff; our web department does.

  15. B’s right – the “Recent Comments” is the part I look for first, even before newly posted articles. It would also be helpful if it would appear higher on the page, so you don’t have to scroll down to see it.

  16. The fundamental question is how do you decide a CEO’s pay. Good CEOs may get paid top dollar, but they turn the company around and bring back to the company much more than their pay.

    I think commenting on Nacy Farber’s salary without knowing her work in WHS is not fair. I dont think lot of people even understand what does a CEO do? “CEO sits on his fancy chair and attends meetings, while we toil our asses off…?” is not the right attitude.

    Ultimately it comes down to this. Can you hire someone as good as Farber for say 200k/yr. If so, go ahead. I am sure she will quit if her pay is reduced to 200k. You can outsource CEO’s job too 😉

  17. “Can you hire someone as good as Farber for say 200k/yr. If so, go ahead” –

    Andy, Andy, Andy – that’s a load of steaming hot manure – it sounds great – nice anecdote.

    Tell you what – let’s let the taxpayers of Fremont vote on whether or not to renew Farbers employment agreement next year . . . . problem is, that’s useless – despite the fact that the taxpayers of Fremont would LOVE to find someone else to do this job and could do so for half the price – -that ain’t gonna happen – because of employment agreements and a golden parachute that (I speculate) ensures that Nancy will cost us more to get rid of than to keep !

    The real problem lies with the BOD.. See – the job of hiring, firing and reviewing CEO compensation – that’s the job of the Washington BOD – who are liable for this rediculous outrage. And who seemingly have spent ZERO time reviewing any salary comps at all. You know, comparable pay for comparable skills – – – it’s the basis for any employees’ salary – – – except Nancys’ that is. I’m guessing that every WHS board member is looking forward to their opportunity to apply for her position.

    Here’s a constructive idea on how to start the process of unwinding this mess. First – let’s debunk what the heck this position REALLY needs to do and determine what the “market” really is for the few skills that ARE needed here – let’s compare the skills our hospital requires to that of 5 or 10 other hospitals and then compare the compensation of those same hopistal CEO’s – – – – oh, and let’s not make the rookie mistake of not comparing TOTAL compensation.

    Of course – to do so – we need a trusted and unbiased resource to do an analysis like this. Someone who is independant of any potential bias and who has no interest in WHS. Where could we find such a resource ??????

    Hey Matt Artz and Argus – sounds like a really good idea for an investigative reporter with a spare hour or two in their schedule – – – you know, pick up the phone – call the H.R. person at WHS and get details of the position description for the CEO’s position at WHS and then you could make a couple of more phone calls to other health care institutions in major metropolitan centers – write up a little summary and compare how badly Fremont taxpayers are being overhauled.

    This sounds like a really good service to the taxpayers of Fremont, dont you think ?

    But – I DOUBT we’ll ever see THIS on any pages of the ARGUS . . . . Because, I’ve been told that Artz is busy and underpaid and newspapers are suffering and . . . . ummmm – there’s other stuff that gets in the way.

    OK never mind – scratch that idea – we can’t depend on the free press to review this in an unbiased manner.

    So, in the final analysis, ANdy – the rational discussion will not be availed to taxpayers. Instead, Nancy and the WHS BOD and other WHS mouthpieces will sit around and tell the few who are listening all the complicated and serious considerations that Fremont’s Washington Hospital uniquely demands of the CEO position. And guess what – – we’ll find their claims on a full page Argus spread.

    They will use all kinds of emotion-filled sentiment like “life and death” and “liability” and they’ll remind you and I about how important quality health care is to you in your personal time of need (anyone see a recurring theme here ?) – Gosh, seems like a lot of folks are interested in tapping your tax dollar and they use that “life and death” thought a bunch !

    Am I the only one that is beginning to feel like there’s a problem here ? – — – cuz – – – – well – – – see there’s only so many dollars to go around.
    And it DOES seem like EVERYONE wants to remind me about the “life and death “considerations that we must think about when distributing my tax dollars . . . . OK – I give – quick – Nancy – take my wallet before the Fremont P.D. or someone else gets it !

    But – wait a minute, on second thought – – I kinda think my kid’s teacher might rank somewhere on this list of important priorities – but wait a minute – what about my cousin Dave who’s off in Iraq – – – He sure is deserving of my tax dollar isn’t he ? His is a “life and death” battle over my freedoms isn’t it ?

    And meanwhile those of you who spent your years in college earning those MD’s, PHD’s, MBA’s, BA’s, BS’s and who are out of work today because we’ve exported our manufacturing, R&D, and other jobs overseas and are now wondering how you’ll pay to get your kids through college – – – IF they return from Iraq or Afganistan in one piece !

    For all of you – the line to apply for the WHS CEO position starts here.

    Andy thinks none of you are qualified or willing to do this job for $200k – plus bene’s plus golden parachute plus, plus, plus – – – – a year !

  18. MUST BE NICE! what does he do again for the community is he a local? Maybe I am just out of the link! Guess I need to do my homework. 1,000,000 Bucks!

  19. Is he more than a Teacher ,Fireman, Policeman. How is it that this happens….. let alone our SOLDERS! ? Hey, maybe he will be on the next space shuttle mission (TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS) “Rocket Science” I can’t understand how we as humans think that this is OK (CONGRESS). I think that we need to focus on EDUCATION! (don’t mind the grammar uh). p.s. I am sure he took a loan out and filed bankruptcy. NOW WE HAVE TO PAY!
    at least i have a say….thanks!

  20. Box, why are you belittling Matt Artz’s diligence? It is his work that brought Farber’s salary to your attention. Why don’t YOU call the area hospitals and collect salary data, then post it here?

    Otherwise, bravo for beating me out for longest post.

  21. Yup – Marty – You’re spot on !

    Let’s be thankful we have a partial and incomplete story from which no conclusion should be drawn.

  22. Marty – sadly we do not have a particularly involved electorate in Fremont.

    A huge part of the responsibility for that result lays in the hands of the taxpayers themselves.

    A small part of the responsibilty for that result lays in the hands of a media that is distracted with a lot of other feel good or incomplete reporting and is less than aggressive in its pursuit of Tri-City politics and civic business.

  23. What can we do to change this??? I allready feel that if your not using the WHS hospital system ( I use Kaiser) that you should get a tax credit, but when I hear about this salary that seems outlandish in any market I get furious. At that rate I think we should demand to have minute by minute breakdowns of her day..

  24. Bbox, I agree with you that an impartial research can be done. I disagree that all hosptial CEOs have to be paid the same. If Nancy turns out to be a *rockstar* in her medical CEO community, and she has been given specific goals of improving something, then maybe she deserves that money. Without knowing these details, just commenting on her salary is unfair.

    And if you still think CEOs are getting paid too much, then this is a free country. Work hard anybody can become a CEO

  25. Andy’s comment is precisely why a discussion of compensation absent a concurrent discussion of job duties and responsibilities is useless . .so much for being “thankful” for partial facts . . which is to my point of suggesting that a *complete* review of this topic seems like a potentially great service to the taxpaying community.

    But – we’re busy promoting the city’s next tax initiative – no time for this other stuff.

  26. Self serving advertisement In recent TRICITY VOICE paper by Washington Hospital Healthcare System justifying the salary increase of the CEO . I wonder how much it cost the non profit hospital to buy this advertisement? Why should the hospital pay for the advertisement to justify board of directors decision? Let this issue be discussed in the next Board of directors election. We are missing the point in concentrating only about Ms Farber salary. Do her other top 4 administrative associates justify enormous salaries. Each one of these salaries is equivalent to one CEO of medium size hospital . The advertisement talks about risk incentive for Ms Farber . What kind of risk did her associate administrators took to merit incentive?

  27. It is interesting the distinction the hospital continues to want to make between Measure FF funding and operating costs.

    Problem is – this is a bit of a shell game. Suppose the Hospital didn’t pass “FF” – suppose they had to pay for retrofits from (in part) their own revenues. Under that assumption – would there have been more or less in their remaining operating budget to pay salaries with ?

    So, in a very real sense the availability of taxpayer revenue to fund hospital facilities leaves more in the operating budget for other costs (like salaries) – that is, unless you presume the hospital would have simply done NOTHING in the way of facilities improvements had “FF” failed. Of course – Washington is a responsible institution and I do not think that would be the case.

    Another question – if Ms. Farber’s salary is of no concern to taxpayers – then why does hers appear in a database with hundreds of other East Bay civic employees ?

  28. Washington hospital board directors are responsible for healthcare inflation and higher health care costs to the district residents.

    News item today in Argus http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_13732528?source
    Washington Hospital’s CEO gets a raise
    By Matthew Artz
    Oakland Tribune

    There does not seem any restraint by the board of directors despite public outcry and publicity regarding Ms Farber’s salary raise

    Please note that the salary raise is linked to performance which is linked again to patient revenue
    The article mentioned that ” the revenue has increased though the number of patient days actually decreased

    The audits chalk up the increased patient revenue primarily to “market-based price adjustments.” That means the hospital raised rates on insurers, which can lead to higher insurance premiums for residents.”
    The question is did the revenue come also as result of denial of any needed health services to the district residents ?

    That means the revenue growth came at expense of increased costs to TriCity residents part of the revenue was shared by the CEO.

    “I think it’s disgraceful this has become an issue about Nancy Farber,” said board member and Fremont Bank Vice Chairman Mike Wallace. “If the newspaper has any (courage), you should attack the board members. I think you should attack me”
    It is disgraceful that an elected official who to supposed to represent the interests of district residents personalizes the issue instead of addressing the criticism and implications of higher healthcare costs to the district residents.

    The board of directors need to inform the public and disclose which bank handles payroll of 150 million in a year and functions as trustee for pension assets of the Washington hospital.
    If Fremont Bank is involved, then Mr Wallace needs to abstain from all financial decisions of the district hospital including salary raise for Ms Farber

    The issue of excessive salary for CEO of nonprofit corporation is a national issue
    Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has stepped up his criticism of not-for-profit hospitals by slamming what he regards as the high salaries paid to hospital CEOs. He told The Boston Globe that he is planning to introduce legislation to address the issue
    Amendments F7 and F8 regarding executive compensation and governance at charitable organizations was proposed on October 1st this year ..

    The role of salary consultants for hospital CEO is mentioned by Sen Grassley
    “I think that the process is self-serving; it has a multiplier effect – the higher some consultant says [an executive] has got to be paid, the more he’s in demand,” Grassley said in an interview. “People ought to be paid for what they’re really doing.”

    Who are the consultants hired by the Washington board who recommended salary increase ? I would like to investigate their track record.

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