Several other Lifespan administrators received more than $500,000 in compensation in 2007: general counsel Kenneth Arnold ($623,902); treasurer Mary Wakefield ($672,057); chief physician Arthur Klein ($935,291); senior vice president for shared services Frederick Macri ($569,777); and Lifespan Physician Service Organization CEO Joel Kaufman ($542,162). No other Rhode Island hospital executives listed on the tax returns received more than $500,000.

Salaries at the smaller community hospitals present a mixed picture. Modern Healthcare's 2007 median compensation at independent hospitals with revenues under $200 million is $350,500. The CEOs of Westerly and South County hospitals and Roger Williams Medical Center were well below the median, while St. Joseph's John Keimig was slightly above. The 2007 salary and bonuses, however, for Memorial Hospital's Francis Dietz ($572,000), Landmark Medical Center's Gary Gaube ($673,164), and Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island's Richard Charest (440,593) were considerably above the median.

Not only are compensation packages high, they have increased at incredible rates for some executives. Two Care New England executives watched their pay more than double over the last seven years, in part due to long-term incentive plan payments in 2007.

Butler Hospital CEO Patricia Recupero's compensation grew 117 percent, while Hynes' pay increased 107 percent. In addition, Landmark Medical Center CEO Gaube's compensation increased 107 percent as his hospital slid into financial insolvency. The compensation for three other CEOs, Memorial Hospital's Dietz, Emma Pendelton Bradley Hospital's Daniel Wall, and Lifespan's Vecchione, increased between 90 and 99 percent over the last seven years.

Three CEOs of Lifespan hospitals received lesser raises since 2000: Amaral (65 percent), Hittner (62 percent) and Newport Hospital's Arthur Sampson (55 percent). St Joseph Health Service CEO Keimig, who, like Amaral and Gaube, has resigned, received a 72 percent pay increase over seven years.

Case studies in increased compensation
Increases in compensation for Gaube and Charest are among the most notable. In a December 2008 report, the state Department of Health labeled Landmark Rhode Island's financially weakest hospital. Landmark ran a small profit in 2004, but starting in 2005, the Woonsocket hospital slid into insolvency.

In June 2008, the Rhode Island Superior Court appointed a special master to run the troubled institution. Landmark also owns 50 percent of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island, where Charest served as president, as well as second in command to Gaube at Landmark.

While the hospital ran in the red, however, Gaube and Charest continued to receive raises. A review of the hospital's tax returns indicates that Gaube's compensation increased 37 percent, or almost $200,000, from 2005 to 2007. Over the same two-year period, Charest's pay increased 32 percent, or more than $100,000.

John St. Sauveur, 76, served on Landmark's compensation committee at the time, and as the hospital's chairman starting in 2006, but he cannot recall why the two were given raises while the hospital was losing money.

St. Sauveur, the former vice president of Valley Resources Inc. and president of WestBank Realty Corporation, is certain that the pay increases followed the recommendations of a consultant hired to review comparable salaries. He also recalls freezing Gaube's and Charest's pay for 2008.

In July, Gaube resigned from his position at Landmark. Special master Jonathan Savage announced that the former CEO was waiving "in excess of a couple million dollars" of severance, according to the Providence Journal. He would, however, receive health insurance for a year. Charest would continue to work for the financially troubled hospital, Savage added, but his pay would be cut 25 percent.

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