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Originally published December 16, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Page modified December 17, 2013 at 4:31 PM

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Renton hospital’s CEO may face pay cut — to $1M a year

Even if Valley Medical Center’s trustees vote down a two-year extension for the state’s highest-paid public-hospital executive, Rich Roodman’s multimillion-dollar retirement package ensures he’ll walk away a wealthy man.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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That poor man, please say it isn't so. I hope he isn't tramatised by this whole ordeal... MORE
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Rich Roodman is a POS parasite. This is exactly one of the main drivers of the fact... MORE

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An appointee-controlled board is set to decide Tuesday whether Washington’s highest-paid public-hospital executive will keep his million-dollar-plus annual paycheck for at least another two years after controversy over his soaring pay.

But even if Valley Medical Center’s board of trustees votes down the extension to longtime Chief Executive Officer Rich Roodman’s contract, he’ll walk away a rich man.

Records show Roodman has amassed a retirement package worth at least $7.5 million.

The amount includes a standard hospital-executive retirement plan valued at $1.6 million, plus supplemental retirement plans worth $3.4 million and two life-insurance policies valued at $2.5 million.

The quietly arranged meeting on Roodman’s future is set to determine if the taxpayer-supported hospital in Renton will extend the CEO’s contract through Jan. 1, 2016. Roodman’s current contract expires Dec. 31.

Under the proposal, Roodman stands to make more than $1 million in annual salary and bonuses, the records show. That’s about $300,000 less than the amount he earned last year.

Roodman, 65, Valley Medical Center’s chief executive for more than 30 years, did not respond to requests for comment Monday. Kim Blakeley, a spokeswoman for the hospital, also did not respond to questions posed to her Monday.

Records show the proposed contract extension for Roodman would freeze his current base salary at about $769,000 and continue to offer him more than $238,000 in annual incentives. It would discontinue the hospital’s contributions to Roodman’s supplemental retirement plans, as well as stop paying him “retention” payments that have garnered him more than $235,000 annually in recent years.

Members of the public hospital board of trustees’ compensation committee negotiated the proposal with Roodman and his lawyers over the past month, according to an email board President Lisa Jensen sent to fellow trustees and other hospital staff members on Friday.

“The agreement strikes a balance that acknowledges Rich’s service and performance at VMC and also recognizes the changing times at VMC and in healthcare in general,” Jensen’s email states of the proposal.

Roodman has “agreed to serve for another two years and work closely with the Board on succession planning,” the email added.

Roodman was paid nearly $1.3 million in total pay in 2012. His compensation included a $707,000 base salary and more than $487,000 in bonuses, hospital financial reports filed with the state Department of Health show.

His pay last year was more than double that of University of Washington Medical Center Chief Executive Stephen Zieniewicz ($605,832) and of Eileen Whalen ($567,599), executive director of Harborview Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital.

The trustees’ decision on Tuesday looms amid an ongoing court battle over control of the hospital’s supervision after years of controversy surrounding Roodman’s pay.

For decades, King County Public Hospital District No. 1 — the oldest and largest of Washington’s 56 public hospital districts — was governed by an elected board of commissioners that oversaw Valley Medical Center’s operations.

But that changed in 2011, after the hospital merged with UW Medicine. After the alliance, the UW created a 13-member board of trustees to oversee the hospital. The new board included the district’s five elected commissioners, though they were outnumbered by eight appointees, including several former commissioners and Roodman supporters who had been voted out of office.

After the merger, the commission sued, challenging the transfer of its oversight duties to the majority-appointed board. A King County judge’s ruling last year against the suit has been appealed to the state’s Court of Appeals.

“What you had here was that Mr. Roodman saw the handwriting on the wall,” Seattle attorney Phil Talmadge, who represents the elected commissioners, said Monday. “His very pliant board of commissioners were being defeated at the polls, so this merger was an attempt to transfer all the functions of the elected board to a new, unelected group that are friendly to Roodman.”

Roodman’s pay and other actions have stirred controversy in recent years. A 2009 state audit found he collected an unusual $1.7 million “retirement payment,” even though he didn’t retire.

The state’s Public Disclosure Commission also issued a record $195,000 fine against Roodman in 2007, after he and another administrator spent more than $500,000 in public funds to campaign on behalf of a successful tax levy and an unsuccessful annexation measure that would have increased the size of the tax district. The hospital’s insurance paid the penalty, which was reduced to $120,000.

Lewis Kamb: lkamb@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2932. Twitter: @lewiskamb



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