By Dan Christensen and Buddy Nevins, FloridaBulldog.org
Taxpayer supported Broward Health’s board of commissioners will be asked today to approve spending $300,000 for a search firm to find a new CEO whose total pay would be $950,000 a year.
The new CEO’s “total targeted cash compensation” would far exceed the $675,000 annual salary of the last CEO, the late Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, who committed suicide Jan. 23.
At the same meeting, commissioners will be asked to approve a $619,000 salary for Interim CEO Pauline Grant, who currently runs the district’s system of public hospitals and clinics.
The board will also be asked to hire Philadelphia-based Diversified Search, the firm recommended to locate and screen candidates for the permanent job of running Broward Health, which has over 8,200 employees, roughly 300,000 emergency room visits every year and an annual budget of about $1.2 billion.
If hired, Diversified would be paid a “minimum retainer fee” of $300,000, or 31.5 percent of the successful candidate’s total compensation package in the first year. The company’s fee would grow “should the actual compensation exceed the basis of our retainer.”
The new CEO’s “total compensation includes salary, estimated bonus, signing bonus and any other incentive cash compensation,” says a March 30 letter written by John T. Mestepey, the managing partner of Diversified’s Miami office.
Broward Health is also to pay Diversified for “direct and indirect expenses,” including “candidate and consultant travel” and database research costs. “Indirect expenses are 9% of the fee,” Mestepey wrote.
With the hiring of Diversified Services, Broward’s two public hospital districts – North and South – would be actively engaged in expensive searches for pricey top executives. Memorial Healthcare System, as the south district is known, is paying $330,000 plus expenses to Korn Ferry to find a replacement for longtime CEO Frank Sacco, who retired at the end of February. Korn Ferry was hired last year.
Taxpayers foot bill, kept in dark
While taxpayers will be helping to foot the bill for the search, they would be kept in the dark about certain unspecified aspects of the search under guidelines laid down by Mestepey in his March 30 letter to Interim CEO Grant.
“During the course of this assignment, Diversified will provide you with various information on potential candidates,” Mestepey wrote.
“Accordingly, it is understood and agreed that dissemination of this information shall be limited to employees of Broward Health who are directly connected with this specific search, or whom a reasonable person would agree have a need to know.”
The board decided a nationwide CEO search was needed in the wake of El Sanadi’s Jan. 23 suicide. Kevin Fusco, Broward Health’s chief operating officer, was named acting CEO but was later removed. Grant took over as interim CEO last month.
Grant was given the tough task of restoring Broward Health’s battered public reputation amid daunting news of both federal and state investigations of the district’s purchasing practices. Her first job has been to calm the political firestorm from the probes and El Sanadi’s suicide, and to reassure doctors complaining that patient care was “hanging by a thread” due to contracting delays.
Those contracting delays, said to be improved lately, were laid at the doorstep of Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett.
Barrett, whose nine-month tenure has been steeped in controversy, faces a performance evaluation this month. That evaluation, however, may not be entirely public.
According to the meeting’s agenda, an unidentified board member(s) recommended that commissioners meet individually with Barrett to ask questions and complete her evaluation.
“This will afford each commissioner the ability to ask the questions necessary to complete their evaluation form as well as to respect the potential for certain sensitive matters that should not be mad[e] public potentially in defense of the system,” the agenda says.