Hospital CEO pay: Maryland Hospital Association responds

Regarding the Aug. 29 article on hospital CEO compensation ("Hospital CEO pay is sweet"):

Famed management expert Peter Drucker said that health care is the most difficult, chaotic, and complex industry to manage today, and that the hospital is "altogether the most complex human organization ever devised."

Indeed, hospitals are not your typical business. Hospitals are places where lives are saved. They ease pain and suffering. Hospitals are open every minute of every day, driven by a mission of caring and rooted in their communities. Hospitals do not close up and move on when economic times get tough. This requires extraordinary dedication, commitment, talent, and leadership. And hospitals are governed by trustees--independent leaders from the communities hospitals serve. The compensation for hospital executives is determined by those boards and compensation committees who follow nationally recommended practices for setting contract terms, evaluating CEO performance, reviewing salary comparability data, setting and approving compensation, and ensuring the process is free from conflict of interest.

As not-for-profit organizations, hospital leaders' compensation information is a matter of public record, reported annually to the government and available on any number of public websites. Perhaps the more important look is at what these hospital leaders do day in and day out for Marylanders:

•Provide more than 88,000 Maryland jobs; most hospitals are the largest employers in their communities and they employ your friends and neighbors;

•Make health care available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, regardless of a recession, blizzards, physician and nurse shortages, or other obstacles;

•Bring you the latest technology and facilities so you, your family, and your neighbors can get the care they need, when they need it;

•Manage the uncertainties and vast change that health care reform will bring;

•Preserve your local hospital as the cornerstone of care in your community.

Hospitals are unique places, and it takes unique people to run them. Maryland is fortunate to have such leaders.

Carmela Coyle

The writer is president & CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association

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