Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Workers to Protest Healthcare Board Member Harry Wardwell’s Financial Relationship with Hospital

NewsApril 4, 2011

While running a bank with $15 million in deposits from the hospital, Wardwell approved the third highest public employee salary in the state for Hospital CEO Sam Downing while approving $6 million in tax dollar payments to outside firm that pushed for massive cuts to hospital staff

Where: Rabobank, 301 Main Street, Salinas

When: Tuesday, April 5, from 2 to 5pm

Salinas – Hundreds of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) workers will rally Tuesday afternoon to protest the questionable financial relationship between SVMH and Rabobank Regional President and Salinas Valley Healthcare Board Member Harry Wardwell, a relationship that may be costing local taxpayers millions of dollars even as state and local governments struggle to balance their budgets.

As an elected official, Wardwell has a legal and a fiduciary obligation to ensure vigilant oversight of the use of the tax dollars that fund the public hospital. Yet while governing SVMH, Wardwell simultaneously runs the bank that oversees SVMH’s payroll and that holds over $15 million of the hospital’s funds as savings deposits. Numerous Rabobank Automated Teller Machines are stationed throughout the hospital.

As Rabobank has benefited from the hospital’s business, Wardwell’s tenure on the Board has been especially favorable to Hospital CEO Sam Downing, whose outsized salary makes him the third highest paid public employee in the State of California according to the Los Angeles Times: (Left out of the L.A. Times report was an additional $2.1 million Downing received in 2009 from multiple taxpayer-financed pension plans despite his not having retired, bringing his 2009 earnings to approximately $3 million.) Downing’s salary was approved by Wardwell as a member of the Board.

Even while approving exorbitant taxpayer-financed executive salaries, Wardwell gave the go ahead for the hospital’s expenditure of $6 million to WellSpring, a management consulting firm out of Chicago that has advised implementing massive cuts to the hospital’s staff.