It was not a unanimous decision, but the majority of San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital’s board of directors congratulated Steve Barron on being brought aboard officially as their permanent CEO Tuesday evening.
For the most part, not much changes: he will continue to receive $500,000 annually in pay, but it will no longer be on a month-to-month contractual basis.
He is now an employee.
“I initially thought I would only be here for a few months or a year,” Barron told the board, but I actually fell in love with the place. I really enjoy it.”
Barron said that he wanted to ease concerns after two years at the helm as constituents wondered, “Are you leaving?”
“For everyone’s sake and mine, this will give comfort” to those needing reassurance that decisions he signs off on will not be undone by another CEO in a few months.
His pay remains essentially the same, though now he qualifies for benefits like all of his employees, and expressed interest in participating in the hospital’s matching pension plan and employee incentive program that allows administrators to receive up to 25 percent in annual bonuses if the hospital achieves specific goals, such as meeting the net operating budget — or exceeding it (incentive programs start at 15 percent of base compensation for achieving certain thresholds).
Hospital Healthcare District board president Dennis Tankersly, who also serves on the hospital board, asked if Barron’s compensation was at fair market value compared to other CEOs of hospitals of similar size.
Board member Phillip Capobianco pressed the issue further, saying that figures he obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce stipulates that the average annual compensation for hospital CEOs nationwide was between $162,000 and $179,000.
The board was informed that the fair market value of compensation was based on figures from the Hospital Association of Southern California, which according to hospital staff averages $500,000 for a nonprofit hospital of San Gorgonio’s size.
The Economic Research Institute lists CEO cash compensation for “smaller nonprofit hospitals with revenues of $50 million” in California as having a mean of $312,213.
The website Indeed.com lists average CEO salaries as being $124,088 — less than the average salaries reported by that site for chief medical officers of $229,490 annually.
A study reported by the state’s Legislative Analyist’s Office to Attorney General Kamala Harris in January 2016 claimed that nationwide CEOs at nonprofit hospitals in 2009 earned on average $600,000 nationwide, with wages varying between $50,000 to over $3 million, with CEOs managing nonprofit teaching hospitals and nonprofit hospitals in urban areas receiving higher pay.
In January a two-year contract was approved for Antelope Valley Hospital CEO Edward Mirzabegian for $600,000 — a nonprofit hospital of similar size, as reported in the Antelope Valley Press.
Board members expressed their support for Barron.
Past board president Ron Rader complimented Barron for resolving an ugly dispute between Beaver Medical Group and Epic Management that pitted doctors and patients against each other.
“He was a big part of solving that dilemma. We all trust him and are happy with him,” Rader said.
Board member Estelle Lewis was glad the decision was made by Barron to remain with the hospital.
“We have come a long way,” Lewis said, noting “We had no way to go but up, and he’s taken us further. I’m glad we’re getting a permanent CEO.”
Board member Tankersly said that Barron is “highly valuable,” crediting him for having driven “improvements in quality and breadth of care to the community.”
Board member Lynn Baldi motioned to approve his salary and three-year agreement to prevent disruptions to hospital operations; her motioned was seconded by board member Steve Cooley; all board members with the exception of Capobianco voted in favor.
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.