That didn’t hurt now – did it? Hospital CEO’s now have to open the kimono and show it all.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 4th, 2012  –  There, that didn’t hurt now did it?  Remember those words from your first visit to the doctor?  It was a new experience for you and one you would get used to for the rest of your life.  A similar experience came across the desk of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital CEO and President Eric Vandewall this week.  Ontario’s Freedom of Information legislation was made to apply to the medical community and JBMH had to post the information on its web site.  Now anyone and everyone can log in and see what the man is paid.  There is nothing exorbitant in Vandewall’s contract.  Some of his colleagues elsewhere in the province, particularly across the Bay, do much better.

Liberal candidate in the provincial election Karmel Sakran shares a smile with JBMH CEO Eric Vandewall at an event where everyone hoped a provincial government minister was expected to show up with a funding announcement. Sakran at the time was a member of the hospital Board and was in line to become chairman of the hospital board but resigned when he ran for office - and lost. Sakran's signature appears on Vandewall's employment contract as a witness.

To spare you the trouble of going through the 10 page agreement we can tell you that the hospital hired Vandewall in June of 2010 at a salary of $325,000 plus a car allowance of $1000. a month.  He has to pay for parking like everyone else, which is more than can be said of Burlington city council members, but then they don’t get the big bucks that Eric gets.

In December of this year Vandewall’s salary was increased to $338,428.  But there was a hook added to the compensation agreement.  $17,767. of that salary is “at risk”, meaning that it is possible for Vandewall to not to actually get the full $338,428. in his contract.   Has to earn this portion of his salary by meeting designated objectives outlined in the Hospitals’ Quality Improvement Plan.  Personally, I hope for Vandewall that one of the objectives isn’t his getting real money from the province to rebuild his hospital. I think the province is going to stiff him because it just isn’t going to have the money.

That level of detail in the contract “designated objectives” portion of the contract is something best left to the hospital Board.  You have to trust them to hold Vandewall accountable and to behave responsibly as a Board.  One small quibble – the information that was to be made public effective January 3rd wasn’t actually available until sometime in the mid-afternoon – a small detail and hopefully not a telling one.

It is a new day for hospital administrators.  They are paid out of the public purse and are responsible to the public.  Accept the change or leave the profession and work in the United States where the dollars are much, much greater – but do you really want to live there?

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