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Seeds of Dissatisfaction

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012
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Alan J. Burgess CEO
Tehachapi (Calif.) Valley Healthcare District


There is more pressure on public hospitals with CEO compensation. I am seeing some ratcheting down and restricting benefits. Some bad actors have caused significant problems for others of us in the public sector.

There is also more dependence on others. Hospitals are much more complex organizations than they were even five years ago, and I have been in the business now for 46 years. There is some frustration because there is less that the CEO level can do to guarantee that things are happening because you are relying on so many other people to do their part. In the old days it was much more of a one-man show.

One of the advantages and reasons that I am in small and rural hospitals is because I still know all of my employees, I know most of my patients, and I can work with them one-on-one. Another reason for the dissatisfaction is the quick turnover. In some states CEO tenure is down to two and three years.

I don't know if this trend can be reversed. Some of it is just the changing marketplace. There is a different culture moving into the C-suite these days than there used to be. Some CEOs aren't willing to put in the hours or the effort and so they are going to have the frustration. I am hearing CEOs for the first time encouraging people not to enter the field. They just feel like the compensation no longer matches the level of responsibility and trust and accountability that they are held to.

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