A state report on district hospital payrolls shows that 8.5 percent of the employees at three of Sonoma County's four tax-supported hospitals were paid more than $100,000 a year, a much lower ratio than at most other local public agencies.
Palm Drive Health Care District in Sebastopol listed 330 paid positions at its hospital in 2009, 26 of which topped $100,000 including those of 14 registered nurses. The hospital had no physicians listed among its employees.
"If someone is looking for maximum compensation, we cannot compete with Kaiser," Raoul McDuff, human resources director at the hospital said while referring to one of the three major hospitals in Sonoma County, none of which are tax supported.
Palm Drive, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, tends to pay most positions up to 20 percent less than private competitors, he said.
The Palm Drive payroll is included in a report released last week by the California State Controller's Office, its latest batch of salary information for public employees. The report covered hundreds of local special districts, including three Sonoma County hospitals districts.
The data available on the Controller's website shows pay by position for all district employees in 2009. It does not attach names to numbers.
The Sonoma Valley Health Care District listed 524 paid positions, including 47 who made more than $100,000, among them 20 registered nurses. No physicians were on its payroll either.
Sonoma Valley's highest paid position was its chief financial officer, who pulled down $241,092 in 2009. The CEO received $205,250.
Current CEO Kelly Mather, who was hired in July 2010, said in a statement that the hospital pays slightly below market rate. A spokeswoman said Mather's salary information couldn't be provided until Monday.
Petaluma Health Care District, which leases its hospital to St. Joseph's Health Care System of Sonoma County and does not provide direct services, listed 20 paid positions, including just one medical provider, a mid-wife position that earned $71,292. The CEO received $150,643, the only salary exceeding $100,000, according to the report.
There was no information provided for the county's fourth hospital district, the Healdsburg District Hospital. CEO Evan Rayner said the controller's office had mistakenly thought the hospital was a subdivision of the city of Healdsburg, not an independent district.
He said the hospital was working to provide the information to the state.
"We're going to be compliant," he said.
The state's growing database of governmental salaries was created in response to the corruption scandal in the Los Angeles County city of Bell, where the city's top six administrators made a combined salary of $6 million a year.
Earlier reports on city and county workers in Sonoma County showed that 13.7 percent of them were paid more than $100,000, a level achieved by just 8.2 percent of all public and private sector workers in the county, according to Census figures
In some fire districts, the percentage of six-figure earners was much greater. The Rincon Valley Fire Protection District paid 14 of its 22 full-time workers more than $100,000 a year. And the Valley of the Moon Fire Protection District paid 13 of its 17 full-time employees more than $100,000 — including seven who made more than $125,000.<NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO>
The Palm Drive report shows the chief executive position led the way with $265,775<NO1><NO> in pay in 2009. That figure included money earned by two people. In summer 2009, the hospital's board of directors dismissed CEO James Russell<NO1><NO> without cause, one of eight CEOs at the hospital in the past four years, and hired interim leader Neil Todhunter who served into 2010.