Interim Salinas Valley Hospital CEO Under Fire for Travel Pay

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Lowell Johnson, interim president and CEO of Salinas (Calif.) Valley Memorial Healthcare System, is catching public criticism after it was discovered he was paying his daughter with district funds to get him to and from the airport every week, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Mr. Johnson commutes to the health system every week from his home, which is based in Seattle. Last year, SVMHS paid Mr. Johnson $4,000 in travel compensation, and hospital district receipts indicated he was using an "airport town car," according to the report. It was discovered Mr. Johnson hired his daughter and paid her $100 per week to drive him to and from the airport.

In response, Mr. Johnson said he did not see the need to notify the hospital board he hired his daughter as a driver because he was within his $1,500 weekly travel expense limit, according to the report. Mr. Johnson, who makes $10,000 in salary every week, also said in the report his "goal has always been to find the lowest cost options for my client."

Hospital employees who are with the National Union of Healthcare Workers have criticized Mr. Johnson's compensation packages, including the candy bars Mr. Johnson bought at the Seattle airport but charged to the hospital.

"At $10,000 a week, can't you buy your own candy bar?" said John Borsos, a vice president with the NUHW, in the report.

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