Washington Hospital paying for CEO’s charitable giving

Story by Ashly McGlone: 

FREMONT — When charity calls, Washington Hospital CEO Nancy Farber has opened her checkbook, contributing to the hospital’s own health care foundation, donating to service clubs and college funds, and helping to fund services for chemotherapy patients and a new brain and spine imaging system.

Then Farber, one of the highest paid public officials in the state with more than $1 million in annual compensation, submitted many of her charitable expenses to her public hospital district for reimbursement, to the tune of more than $20,000 over the last three years.

A district spokesman, noting that the reimbursements are allowed under Farber’s contract, at first dismissed questions from this newspaper about the hospital’s practices as “trite.” But last week, the district shifted its stance, saying that Farber is refunding the hospital for some of those donations.

For more of the story, click here.

Chris DeBenedetti


  1. Nice work on this McGlone!
    Thank you.
    As someone who has been unrelentingly critical of our local coverage, it’s incumbent on me to also find examples of doing it right.

    This series by Ashley McGlone is just such an example.

    Not much more to add to this saga that the Op Ed in todays’ issue doesn’t already state except that those Fremont taxpayers who contribute to the WTHS coffers will now be witness to just how high up the organizational hierarchy the disdain for public trust extends as the burden for corrective action now rises to the BoD. Their choice is simple – they can attempt a restoration of public trust in the personnel and processes which have allowed this condition to become acceptable, or, they can incriminate themselves as willing participants by ignoring obvious warning signs that all is not well in Denmark.
    With this kind of incestuous oversight, one can’t help wonder about the process of selecting and approving the executive salary consultants that have made Fremont home to one of our states most highly compensated public employees.

    A cut and paste of todays Op Ed follows below.

    Mercury News editorial: Washington Hospital district board should decide where money goes

    Dec 26:

    Washington Hospital paying for CEO’s charitable giving

    As CEO of Fremont-based Washington Hospital, Nancy Farber is one of the highest compensated public officials in the state at more than $1 million a year.

    And she can’t use her own money to support her favorite charities?

    Farber has been writing personal checks to charities — more than $20,000 in the past three years — and then getting reimbursed by the public hospital district. The practice is actually encouraged in her contract with the board, which apparently likes secretly funneling money here and there.

    It’s just wrong. Decisions on how to spend district money should be made publicly and transparently.

    Instead, as reporter Ashly McGlone documented, Farber has been listed personally as a sponsor of fundraisers and galas when the district paid the bill. Why? To disguise the fact that the hospital is paying for parties? To help Farber look like a big charitable spender without having to actually give anything? It hardly matters.

    The practice is riddled with conflicts. For example, the biggest beneficiary has been the Washington Hospital Foundation. One of its executive officers, Dr. William Nicholson, is a director on the hospital district board that oversees Farber’s contract and expenses. No wonder he sees nothing wrong with the practice.

    Then there are gifts to the Ohlone College Foundation and the Niles Rotary Club — worthwhile charities, but how do they relate to the district’s mission?

    The district spokesman first dismissed McGlone’s questions about Farber’s expenditures as “trite.” So we hope McGlone and other watchdogs will take a closer look at the hospital district’s spending. If this sleight of hand is trite, who knows what else is out there.

  2. Thank you Ashly McGlone, now if we could only get the elected directors email address’s. So we can communicate with them that we do not trust them

  3. Bill –
    Individuals that recognize a responsibility to the public and who place value on engaging that public would exploit all methods of communication.
    Like most members of our City Council, this BoD chooses to closely manage their channels of accessibility to the community.
    It’s odd and, for me, confirmation of their relative insecurity with their decisions. If you’ve got any ounce of self confidence, you’re glad to discuss it in ANY venue.

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