Sloan-Kettering is soliciting money to help cure cancer , or so the young lady told me this week when I walked into Stop-N-Shop to purchase some groceries. In the front of the store there was a young woman asking my friend and I ( he had just helped me open my pool and save some much needed money ) to purchase some raffle tickets; each cost a dollar and we were told that the money would go to Sloan-Kettering to help the indigent and unfortunate children with cancer and for research that might cure cancer one day. My friend, Ted, purchased five and I, not to disappoint my friend who seemed delighted with the idea that he was helping some ill person, purchased one.
What Ted did not know, and I did not have the heart to tell him, is that just a day before, and while eating lunch I had opened an e-mail sent to me from a friend that highlighted the highest five salaries of both administrators and physicians at Sloan-Kettering. As I read this, mindful that my salary and most other decent physicians has plummeted in the past few years, I lost my appetite.
While Sloan-Kettering is begging all of us to give our precious dollars, and while most of us are struggling in the current recession, their doctors and administrators are taking home millions of dollars! The president and CEO of Sloan-Kettering, Harold Varmus, took home over 4.4 million dollars in 2009 - that's a heck of a lot of money for a not-for-profit anything and a heck of a lot of raffle sales. If we include the other top earners then it would come to roughly, give or take a million raffle tickets, about 20,000,000 in salary for 2009.
In comparison, the much maligned former president of NPR, Vivian Schiller , earned about $560,000 dollars in 2010. Yet, Ms. Schiller and her NPR colleagues took a lot of heat for their salaries. I haven't heard a whisper about the salary of Harold Varmus, have you?
Frankly, I think the execs at Sloan-Kettering are undeserving , overcompensated gluttons and that someone should demand that their salaries be lowered out of the stratosphere.If the execs are not happy with just making a million of so dollars they are certainly welcome to join the unemployment line; someone else with wonderful credentials, and probably much more empathy for the sick, will eagerly fill their spot. Instead, Sloan-Kettering is sending young kids out to beg for money, for the sick and needy, or the fat and wealthy.
If just the top ten paying administrators and doctors at Sloan, no one knows much about the others whose salaries could also be in the millions since non-profits are only required to list the top five doctor's and top five administrator's salaries, reduced their salary to a measly million a year there would be an additional $10,000,000 dollars to treat cancer.
It appears to me that the only ones who can fix this debacle are people like you, and me, and Ted. If we all stop giving to not-for-profits that overcompensate their executive staff then we could force them to reduce the salaries of these execs and spend more of their resources on patient care.
As I finished writing this article I realized that Dr Varmus no longer works for this non-profit institute. His new boss, Barack Obama, appointed him the director of the National Cancer Institute during the summer of 2010.
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