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Jim Kenyon: D-H Should Consider Cutting From the Top

Published: 9/14/2016 12:16:26 AM
Modified: 9/15/2016 12:01:26 PM

In announcing last week that Dartmouth-Hitchcock will soon be laying off between 270 and 460 employees, CEO James Weinstein said, “Reductions at all levels of the organization will be considered.”

He might want to start in the medical center’s executive suites. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that D-H is top heavy.

Valley News staff writer Rick Jurgens, who covers health care, was able to unearth salary information on D-H’s top executives by digging through the institution’s federal tax filings, which are public records. The compensation figures are from 2014, the most recent year available.

I now get why medical centers such as D-H charge $15 for an aspirin.

Exhibit A: Roddy Young, D-H’s vice president of communications and marketing, received a total compensation package of $347,030 in 2014.

His name might ring a bell for Dartmouth College-types, or maybe not. In June 2011, then-President Jim Yong Kim hired Young away from a Washington, D.C., communications firm to be the college’s vice president of communications.

Young, who was once the press secretary for NASA, lasted 10 months. Not even long enough to qualify for employee of the year.

In April 2012, Young headed off to D-H to fill a newly created position. Young told The Dartmouth, the college’s student newspaper, that D-H’s public affairs office lacked “one particular set leader.”

Previously, oversight of the marketing and communications department was shared among D-H’s executive vice president for strategy and network relations, the vice president of regional development and the vice president for government affairs. (See what I mean about top heavy?)

Apparently, the job was more than three VPs could handle. Much less leave it to the trio’s highest compensated, Stephen LeBlanc, the executive vice president for strategy and network relations. The guy pulled down only $871,786 in 2014.

Barely enough for LeBlanc to crack D-H’s top five, which was led by Weinstein’s compensation package of nearly $1.5 million. (The University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington paid CEO John Brumsted nearly $1.7 million in 2014.)

Weinstein and Brumsted are both physicians, which helps explain the rationale for paying them the big bucks.

But I can’t quite figure out why D-H needed to give its chief innovation officer a $695,000 compensation package in 2014, or for that matter, what a chief innovation officer does.

“For me, innovation is a lot of asking questions: Why not? And: How could we? It’s about asking how you optimize what you have,” Terry Carroll, D-H’s chief innovation officer, explained (sort of) on the medical center’s website.

I’ve got a question: Where do you sign up for one of D-H’s mega-salary jobs?

I’m guessing it’s at the human resources office, where the head of the department, John Malanowski, earned $501,209 during his first year in Lebanon. Malanowski came out of the corporate world, serving as vice president of human resources for diaper-maker Kimberly-Clark.

Malanowski was among 23 D-H administrators and physicians who cracked the half-million dollar mark in 2014.

I don’t have a problem with D-H paying its docs top dollar. They tend to put in long hours caring for patients, after going through years of training at relatively low pay.

To put it another way, they’ve earned it.

Time and again in recent years, I’ve heard stories about
D-H physicians, nurses and other care providers who are being asked to do more with less.

D-H, with its 9,200 employees, has long enjoyed a reputation as a top-flight medical center. But I’m beginning to wonder if the institution’s best days are behind it.

Last month, D-H announced it had discovered a $23 million deficit in the fourth quarter that put them in the red for the fiscal year that ended June 30. For a health care system with an annual $1.6 billion budget that’s not reason to panic.

What I find more alarming is the departure of some of
D-H’s leading physicians, including Norris Cotton Cancer Center Director Mark Israel, who is leaving at the end of this month. Israel, who spent 14 years at the helm, hasn’t said publicly why he’s leaving.

But it begs the question: Are D-H’s top docs losing faith in management?

On Monday, I stopped by the three-story brick building in the Centerra office park where D-H stashes its overflow of administrators. The building, which D-H leases, includes a stone fireplace in the lobby that I guess is meant to give it a ski lodge feel.

In a brief conversation, D-H spokesman Rick Adams reiterated what Weinstein said last week about the pending layoffs: Everything is on the table.

To get a better idea of how many people D-H has in upper levels of management, I asked Adams for an organizational chart.

He shrugged a bit, before saying that he’d see what he could find.

“This is a large institution,” he said. “There are a lot of bosses.”

I never did get the chart, but in an email on Tuesday, Adams reminded me that Carroll, the chief innovation officer, had left D-H last year, and won’t be replaced.

He also took exception to my suggestion that D-H is “top heavy” with management. “Our executive leadership mirrors the roles that are benchmarked as industry-standard among health care organizations,” Adams wrote.

Industry standards, huh? Maybe it’s time to summon back the innovation guy who specializes in asking questions with one eye toward making changes.


Jim Kenyon can be reached at

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


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