Avram Goldstein has written inaccurate stories about Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and its parent company, Adventist HealthCare [Metro, Dec. 22 and Metro, Dec. 1].
Regarding a 5 percent raise for nurses, Mr. Goldstein wrote that "many current and former employees believe the raise is a move to placate them after recent reports in The Post that executive salaries soared as the hospitals were cutting back in other areas." The truth is the decision process to raise salaries for nursing professionals began in October, two months before Mr. Goldstein's story about executive compensation.
It is also untrue that Adventist HealthCare executives were given large raises between 1996 and 1998, which Mr. Goldstein alleged in his Dec. 1 story and repeated in his Dec. 22 story.
The error came from the fact that Mr. Goldstein added up all listed numbers from the company's IRS Form 990 and referred to them as total compensation. That was misleading. He used the figures on IRS Form 990, which includes accrued benefits, and not the W-2 income statement, which lists income earned during a given year. For example, Mr. Goldstein reported that Ron Wisbey earned $447,000 in 1997, but that figure included accrual of many years of Mr. Wisbey's retirement fund, including his personal contributions to that fund.
Mr. Wisbey's W-2 form for that year listed his income as $165,314.35 -- a difference of $281,685.65.
Mr. Goldstein also makes a connection between executive compensation and staffing adjustments at Adventist HealthCare hospitals, but executive compensation, like all employee salaries, is determined by market forces. Operating cost reductions were based upon changing market conditions and projections of changes in the local health care market.
KENNETH B. DeSTEFANO
Vice President and General Counsel
Adventist Health Care
The Post highlighted the mess at the local Adventist hospitals, with nurses and doctors having to face cutbacks and dying patients left unattended while executives enjoy millions of dollars in severance pay.
Perhaps board members like Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery), who rarely have time to attend board meetings, should resign and let a staff nurse, doctor or janitor assume their positions. Board members have a community responsibility to know what is going on in their organization and be responsible to its constituents. The workers may not bring in money, but money follows a reputable organization, not one that gives its executives outrageous bonuses while nurses have to buy their own pens.