Salinas hospital faces audit

Fishy compensation practices

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital is opening its doors to a six-month financial audit after the Los Angeles Times reported that outgoing CEO Samuel Downing (pictured) received nearly $4 million in supplemental retirement payouts on top of $150,000 in annual pension, according to media reports.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) requested the audit, calling the rumors “serious allegations.” Alejo also made claims that the hospital spent millions on excessive pay for other hospital executives, while staff was reduced and patients were potentially put at risk.

The audit will cost more than $244,000 and will look at the hospital’s compensation practices, expenditures, revenue and staffing. Hospital officials defended their compensation practices at a legislative hearing, and said they welcomed the audit, which will be conducted by State Auditor Elaine Howle.