Share This Page

West Penn Allegheny Health System top earner: CEO who left

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 12:06 a.m.

It pays to walk away from West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Just ask Christopher Olivia, the health system's CEO until he resigned in June 2011.

Olivia was paid $6 million by the financially hurting hospital network for the 12 months ended June 30, 2012, according to tax returns released on Tuesday.

In the previous year, his last at the helm of West Penn Allegheny, Olivia was paid $7.4 million. By comparison, UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff earned $6 million that year. UPMC is expected to make public its 2012 tax returns this week.

Olivia declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement in his severance package.

Officials with West Penn Allegheny declined to comment.

Olivia joined the five-hospital system in March 2008 and oversaw three years of heavy financial losses. In the last two years, when his compensation totaled $13.4 million, West Penn Allegheny reported a combined $164.3 million loss from operations and a combined net loss of $17.4 million.

His compensation last year included base pay of $677,905, bonus of $2.5 million, other compensation of $930,000, retirement and deferred compensation of $1.88 million, and other benefits of $10,553.

Cathy Stoddard, president of the SEIU nurses union at Allegheny General Hospital, declined to comment on Olivia's pay, but said she was glad to have a new CEO.

“It's a brand new day,” she said, referring to the acquisition by health insurer Highmark that was completed last month.

Highmark named John Paul the CEO of Allegheny Health Network, Highmark's new hospital network that includes West Penn Allegheny, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and St. Vincent Health System in Erie.

Since stepping down from West Penn Allegheny, Olivia became a private contractor for Highmark for one year. Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger declined to comment.

While Olivia was the highest paid employee at West Penn Allegheny last year, the system's tax returns show seven other employees made at least $1 million. And like Olivia, five of them are no longer employed by the system:

• Diane Dismukes, former interim CEO, $1.58 million.

• David Kiehn, former chief financial officer, $1.13 million.

• Gregory Burfitt, former president of West Penn and Allegheny General hospitals, $1.05 million.

• Roy Santarella, former chief administration officer, $2.28 million.

• Dr. Sanford Kurtz, former chief medical officer, $1.04 million.

Still with the system are Dr. Patrick DeMeo, chair of the system's department of orthopedic surgery, $1.06 million; and Dr. James Wilberger, chair of the system's department of neurosurgery, $1.04 million.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.