Following Salem Weekly’s August 4 article, “The Economics of Salem Hospital; Measuring ‘Community Benefits,” Salem Hospital CEO Cheryl R. Nester Wolfe sent a letter to all Salem Health staff, disputing Salem Weekly’s  figure for her compensation and providing her own. Her figures show a 16.6% increase, at most, from when she was Cheif operating officer (COO), and a CEO reimbursement of far less than her predecessor. The facts will not be made public for at least 10 more months.

“It’s my goal that Salem Health be transparent about what we do, why we do it and how we do it,” Nester Wolfe wrote on September 19. “Contrary to what the article stated, I don’t earn $1.4 million. My salary is significantly less than that: I receive $553,600 in base pay, with a potential incentive increase of up to 25 percent that is approved by the board and based on meeting specific goals.”

Salem Weekly calculates that this would provide a maximum compensation of $692,400.

The most current 990 tax form available for Salem Health is for 2014, beginning on October 1, 2014 and running through September 30, 2015.

On this form, which covers time prior to Nester Wolfe becoming Chief Executive Officer in fall 2015, she is still listed as Chief Operating Officer, her previous position. Her compensation for that period is given as having a base of $464,828 with bonuses and incentives of $114,587 making, including other compensation and nontaxable benefits, a total of $594,011.

On that same return, then-current CEO Norm Gruber, who was also then CEO of West Valley Hospital – an entity with revenue of about 25 times less than Salem Hospital – is listed as receiving $1,214,623.

Nester Wolfe’s letter to staff suggests that when she was promoted from COO to CEO, her total compensation rose, at best only 16.6% and became, at best, 43% less (more than $500,000 less) than what Gruber earned in a similar position.

Salem Hospital refused several requests from us for current information on Nester Wolfe’s compensation, and has stated they don’t share that information. Our $1.4 million figure came from a source inside the hospital.

Since the 990 for the period when Nester Wolfe actually became CEO won’t be made available until August 2017, locals concerned about the economics of the largest non-governmental employer in town, will have to wait until then to learn if her figures to hospital staff are accurate.