Washington Hospital’s Farber NOT the highest paid public hospital chief in California

farberWashington Hospital CEO Nancy Farber has been ranked far and away the highest paid public employee in our chain’s annual surveys over the past two years

Earlier this month the LA Times and SF Chronicle reported that Farber at that point was the highest paid public employee in an ongoing state Controller’s Office audit of special government districts.

But the audit won’t be completed until June, and late this week, the largest hospital district in the state Palomar Pomerado Health reported its salaries. Palomar’s CEO Michael Covert made just over $1 million compared to Farber’s $873,598.

The Washington folks want you to know that:
1) While hospital districts are public, that’s why you vote for the hospital board members, salaries are paid through hospital operations, not tax dollars, like say with Highland Hospital.
2) Hospital profits have been soaring –mostly due to the hospital charging more to insurance companies — and the hospital does pump some of that money back into charity care.

However, just because Farber almost gets as much as the district hospital CEO in San Diego, that doesn’t mean the two districts are nearly equal.

Palomar has about 4,000 full time equivalent employees, compared to Washington’s estimated 1,500. Palomar has 656 beds to Washington’s 339, and Palomar has two hospitals and two skilled nursing centers compared to Washington’s one hospital. Also, Palomar serves a region that is more than 850 square miles. Washington serves the Tri-City are, Sunol and a bit of Hayward.

Matt Artz


  1. Washington Hospital will overcharge anybody who walks through their door if they think they have any money.
    If they don’t think you have money, and are confident that you’re not going to die before you get to Highland(i.e. the appendix isn’t going to rupture before you get there), that’s where they’ll send you.

    I had a stiff neck and they took eight x-rays.
    I got the bill and each one was like $250 bucks. If they would have informed me how much they cost(charge) before hand I’m pretty sure I would have given my next another day or so to work itself out.

    which it did by the way. The morphine shot they gave me definitely helped me get there. I’m pretty sure the doctor, who was quite nice, knew that that was all it would take.

  2. Any doctor seems ‘quite nice’ after a shot of morphine.

  3. I don’t think anyone working in a public setting should make more than $250k. If they want to make more than that, then they should go work in business as self employed. This way they take the risk and if they do well they get the reward.

  4. Someone let me know where my conclusions are off track –
    The points I’ve enumerated below relate to the same two points that WTHS folks “want us to know” –

    1.) Farber isn’t paid (directly) out of the infrastructure bonds and associated taxes which are used by the hospital for facilities.

    Doesn’t this statement completely ignore the fact that these facilities are, in part, contributing to the bottom line of the hospital, without which, Ms. Farber might not be “performing” as well ? Maybe her incentive bonus might not be quite as significant if we hadn’t given her all of those very nice facilities to work with. And maybe, just maybe, in the absence of Fremont’s generosity, a fewer number of, but NECESSARY facility improvements would have to come out of the hospital operating budgets which might just leave ever-so-slightly less for . . . . . . . other things . . . . like, SALARIES ?????

    But, forget all that – isn’t it just a bit arrogant and badly disconnected from what it means to be a “public”institution, in part or in whole, to tell folks to effectively “butt out” of a discussion of the economic efficiency of that institution – – – when those same folks contribute to ANY significant portion of that institutions’ economic sustanance ?

    2.) The hospital is doing really really well at billing a lot more, and, they give some part of that back in the way of various charities.

    And, doesnt the first part of *this* statement ignore the fact that “the insurance companies” that are advertised as being billed to drive those “soaring” revenues – — are passing those very same costs back to . . . . you guessed it, some of the very same folks that are also paying for those hospital bonds.

    The two points that were so important for taxpayers to “know”, for me, seem to underscore a MASSIVE disconnectedness from reality on this topic.

    Both, as a *consumer* of WTHS services whose insurance premiums are, in part, determined by their operating expenses OR as a taxpayer who supports their facilities, I am in BOTH cases, concerned about the relative fiscal inefficiency seemingly implicit in the facts surrounding the compensation of Ms. Farber. In one case, as a consumer, I may have a choice . . . . but, as a taxpayer – – – not so much.

  5. Box, you are right. The community paid (pays) for the facility. Without it, none of the employees, including Farber, would have a salary at all. If a private entity built a hospital, they would have to pay for it out of revenue and probably wouldn’t have left over to pay these nice salaries. Sweet deal.

  6. Bbox & Gus,
    Good points! Referencing back to my example, the taxpayers have taken all of the risk in setting up WHHS while the rewards are given to the staff. If the hospital is doing so well, the taxpayers should be getting dividends. Increased revenues are a reflection of increased CHarges and not improved operations which means someone is getting charged more (in this case the insurance company)

  7. Yes, we all know the medical system in our great nation is a mess. We tried to fix it, so now we’re waiting to see if the mess will get bigger at a faster or slower pace.

  8. Will someone please explain why Washington Hospital continues to get taxpayer funds. There are choices outside of it’s system now in Fremont and I think the tax is an outdated but well intentioned one from times when no other hospital was available.

  9. #9, To be fair, WHS only gets tax money to repay bonds passed by the voters to build the facilities. They receive no tax money for operations.

  10. Would anyone know what Farber’s qualifications are. All I hear is that she is a very polarizing person and while Mike Wallace rules the Board like a king, she rules over the Hospital like a Queen.

    Wonder if they violate open meeting rules by meeting in public for just 10% of the time and meeting the rest of the time behind closed doors. And they do have a 5 course dinner complete with steaks and dessert etc. during those closed doors. Maybe that is what they do not want the public to see 🙂 I don’t know of any elected body in Fremont who act that way and get away with it.

  11. The thing that everyone overlooks is how she was a board member on other boards with the board members that approved her pay. Its all a scam and know one cares.. Lets just see what happens when she retires making 800k a year

  12. All this complaining about Farbers salary. Do you know who’s fault is is!
    It is YOU, the voters of Fremont who elect Board Members that are part of the problem! They set the salary, so keep electing Board Members who will do Farbers bidding.
    There is a election in 2012, what are you going to do!

  13. #13, who from the Board is up for reelection i n 2012. Let us have a candidate to oppose that one and go for it. Unfortunately, I thought Eapen was that candidate. But he didn’t work out since he had personal needs for running such as fame and glory.

    And then we had Johal run. When he went to the hospital to ask for some public info, Farber made sure he was chased away from the premises.

  14. The Washington Board of Directors up for re election in 2012 are:
    Patricia Danielson, RHIT , William F. Nicholson, M.D.
    Do we want to send a message to the Board, who will oppose them, more of the same?

  15. I think Nicholson is in a “conflict of interest” situation. He is a doctor at the hospital and hence reports to the CEO ultimately. But then he is also the CEO’s boss as a Board member!!!!

    I wonder how he can provide the oversight as a Board member.

  16. Artz has been doing a great job covering recent (and ongoing) problems at Washington Hospital.

    “. . . the documents released in court raise concerns about retaliation as well as the hospital’s commitment to residents in the Tri-City area and Sunol, whose tax dollars built the hospital.”

    Lots of accusations flying back and forth and some will ultimately prove false, but, from my read of this series of reports there is, at the very least, a systemic management style that relies on a pretty heavy hand by administration. Under the closer scrutiny by external third-parties, this same administration seems to have difficulty with a few basics, such as planning and record keeping. If you are running a tight ship, you dont incur these kinds of lapses nor do you need to rely on intimidation to manage professional personnel.

    As the record of practices mount one has to begin to (again) question, Why is Ms. Farber one of the top-paid administrators in her region ? This facility, by comparison, does not handle anywhere near the highest volume of procedures or patients.

  17. Letters to the editor
    Contra Costa Times
    Posted: 11/30/2011 04:07:36 PM PST

    Hospital leader gets taxpayer charity

    While we all appreciated Nancy Farber’s detailed review of Washington Hospital’s charity to uninsured patients, she left off one important aspect.

    Many of us have followed her career over the years through this paper, and then through my own personal conversations with Pat Danielson, board member, who has stated that she is worth every penny.

    The one charity Farber forgets to mention is that in the last decade her salary and benefit package has grown from $500,000 to $1 million.

    I believe this should be noted as a charity that taxpayers of the hospital district gave her through our annual property tax bills, and it might also be noted that her benefit package started to increase right after the hospital bond measure was approved.

    The bond was meant to improve the hospital system, but the only item that has improved is Farber’s benefit package. Since I don’t use the system — I’m a Kaiser member — perhaps I can write off the portion paid to the hospital district as a charity?

    Sally Morgan


  18. One of the many areas that I’m completely out of touch with is the Measure Z initiative which won by a huge margin.

    And, with such a large preponderance of the constituency voting in favor of this initiative, I’m concluding that I have completely missed the value proposition to Fremont taxpayers. To be willing to part with significant sums, there must be something folks feel they get in return for this huge donation to that which I jokingly refer to as the Farber retirement fund.

    But, seriously, can someone please help me understand what it is that Fremont taxpayers will be uniquely entitled to as a result of their overwhelming philanthropy?

    Is there a “Fremont” room just for Fremont taxpayers?

    Do we get to go to the head of the line when checking in to the E.R. ?

    Just what do we uniquely receive in return for dropping this very big check into the Washington Hopsital coffers?

  19. #23 – Why is it we can do such a great job at covering (and re-covering) minor crimes in our community but a significant meeting such as this seems to float just under the surface of what anyone could characterize as well publicized ?

  20. Nancey Farbers CEO Washington Hospital, Her base salary for each year will be more than $650,000, according to the report. Including incentives and other stipends, her total compensation reached more than $912,000 in 2010.

    Ms. Farber will also receive six weeks vacation and a new car every three years, covered by the hospital, which was mirrored in her previous contract.

    All this complaining about Farbers salary. Do you know who’s fault is is!
    It is YOU, the voters of Fremont who elect Board Members that are part of the problem! They set the salary, so keep electing Board Members who will do Farbers bidding.
    There is a election in 2014, what are you going to do!

  21. Mr. Stewart is absolutely right to make the distinction between “..other public administrators..” and those who lead medical institutions. Our media does a disservice by yammering on and on about who the highest paid public servants are and not making comparisons on an “apples-to-apples” basis.

    So, with that thought in mind, here are some more relevant comparisons –

    Thomas Jackiewicz, former CEO of UC San Diego Medical Center
    Total compensation: $803,651
    Base salary: $591,961
    *Paul Viviano was named CEO of UC San Diego Medical Center in May 2012

    Ann Madden Rice, CEO of UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento
    Total compensation: $798,230
    Base salary: $648,030

    Terry Belmont, CEO of UC Irvine Medical Center
    Total compensation: $775,416
    Base salary: $630,000

    CEO El Camino Hospital Tomi Ryba’s 2013 proposed salary of $714,460 (which local constituency are proposing be slashed by 50%)

    “The board of directors for Washington Hospital Healthcare System in Fremont, Calif., awarded CEO Nancy Farber more than $162,000 in incentives and bonuses, increasing her current compensation to nearly $814,000”

    Fremontians found it within their kindness to gift WTHS with some very nice subsidies. I continue to wonder what Fremontians uniquely receive in return for this gifting. What is it that WE receive back that other patients do not?

  22. Not A Damned Thing Bbox
    This is on the voters of Fremont. They elected the board that keeps on giving.
    The voters of Fremont need to do a reality Check. Vote them out!!!!!

  23. “..I would have told everyone I could about the ‘exclusive rights’ to the new Joint Replacement Center to Dr. Dearborn’s patients, and tried to dissuade any votes I could,”

    WTHS will argue that no measure Z funds were used in constructing the new clinic. But these kinds of arguments are always a bit of a shell game. You need to ask yourself whether or not Nancy would have or could have constructed this elite facility if taxpayers had NOT approved this (and past) measures.

    WTHS is a very well-to-do system thanks to the benevolance of Fremont taxpayers. Unfortunately, we are not all the recipients of the best it has to offer.


  24. It seems that our community Hospital WTH, is for the elite, it doesnot feel like my community Hospital.
    I have joined Kaiser

  25. Of the stories that ran this weekend this was certainly the most damning. Unfortunately it was quickly relegated to a position of irrelevance by a flurry of dislogue on lesser issues AND the 4-story self imposed limit on comment history. Lose the lengthy and useless blogroll please and allocate rhe same space to comment history.

  26. Argus did a nice job of addressing a couple of the major issues and conflicts which result from policies surrounding access to WTHS joint replacement facility.


    Some follow-up Letters ran in todays issue which I’d love to provide a link to but which might trip up the max embedded links filter.

    Farber et-al do a good job of tip-toeing around a difficult reality which is – you get what you pay for. At 2X the state average expense for joint replacements, this facility is certainly near the top of the list – one would hope – on a qualitative basis. Tough as it may be, when it comes to surgical procedures – you get what you pay for.

    But the same argument falls apart when it comes to Fremont taxpayers. See, in addition to paying our respective health premiums, we ALSO have been asked to pay even more (top dollar by comparison to non-Fremont patients of WTHS) thru local taxes and bond measures.

    But – what do WE receive in return for what we’ve paid ????

    Nancy and her BOD will tell you some variation on “that’s different”. Or, maybe they’ll point to a few seminars they’ve conducted which are, of course, accessible to anyone at all. . . .

    Somehow – the adage that “you get what you pay for” – seems to be working ONLY in one direction on this deal.

  27. You’d think that someone that was at the top of the pay scale could have managed the policies associated with the Joint Replacement facility with a bit more dexterity, wouldn’t you?

    Keeping in mind the notion of apples and apples comparison, Farber’s total comp represents .19% of most recently reported total revenue for Washington Hospital.

    By comparison Jim Anderson, President and CEO of Cincinnati Childrens Hospital garners .12% of that operations $1.4B reported revenue. On an annual revenue basis, this operation is 3X the size of WTHS.

    In absolute terms, his total comp is certainly greater than Farbers, but, is in part, justified by the greater revenue generating capability of his operation and the commensurate responsibility which accompanies same.

    Jonathan Bates, Pres and CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital is responsible for beds and procedures which generate roughly 10% more revenue than WTHS, but, his total comp is roughly 25% less that of our Ms. Farber.

    While running a hospital of any size is no slam dunk, Ms. Farber has access to a revenue source which not all other institutions can tap into.

    I wonder if that makes her job, by comparison, more or less challenging.

  28. Excellent point, Bbox. My colleague Ashly McGlone is doing great work on Washington Hospital. I Tweeted and Facebooked (is that even a verb?) her story yesterday, but, you’re right, I should be posting those articles on TCB, too. Will do in the future — and I’ll include the past recent articles, too, in the next WTH post. Thanks for the constructive criticism.

  29. The correct termed is “faced”, which used to mean “moded”. To convey moded you now say “punked”.

  30. “Washington Hospital in Fremont had the dubious distinction of being among only a handful of hospitals statewide with worse-than-average death rates in several categories.”

    What’s wrong with this result?

    We pay above-average CEO comp, subsidize our local hospital with local taxes (which a majority of medical institutions DON’T receive the benefit of) and we end up with higher-than-average mortality in SEVERAL categories . . . .


    Thank you measure Z!!!

  31. Washington Township Hospital (WTH) is a mess. There are many, many things wrong.
    Who do I blame. The voters of Fremont who keep electing Farbers yes men to the WTC board.

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