The other day, our CNO and VP of Human Resources came to our unit to discuss issues and concerns we have regarding our unit, the hospital and our jobs. I brought up the topic of CEO compensation.
Over a six year period, our wages have been flat with inflation taken into account. Over a similar six the CEO of our health system saw a nearly 23% increase in compensation which is anywhere from 65 to 9% above the rate of inflation, depending on how it is calculated. Initially, the answer I got simply left me gobsmacked.
In regards to the issue raised regarding CEO compensation and flat associate wages, she stated, in effect, that "The organization has done well financially," and that the "CEO is driving that ship". She further stated that "the CEO has got to be rewarded". Now, if the organization has done so well, why have the benefits of this not been seen in the form of higher wages...beyond mere cost-of-living increases...and a better health insurance plan?
What really gave me pause though, was what she said about the work of the CEO being a "high stakes game". Initially, I was stunned, then angry, but now it's just a lingering sadness about how distorted the system has become. After all, on a daily basis we deal deal with the suffering of patients and their families in acute and critical care settings. Our every action is fraught with consequences to the lives of our patients and their families. How much higher can the stakes be than the lives of our patients and their families?