COVID-19 forces salary cuts for CEO, others at Confluence Health

Dr. Peter Rutherford

WENATCHEE — With a $26 million loss on the horizon from dealing with coronavirus, Confluence Health is cutting salaries, starting at the top.

The Wenatchee network of hospitals and clinics announced Wednesday CEO Peter Rutherford would take a 25 percent salary reduction, with 10 percent salary cuts for his executive leadership team. The cuts trickle down to department heads and managers, with salary reductions between 3 and 7.5 percent, and to its clinicians, who’ll take 7 to 10 percent salary losses.

The reductions are temporary while Confluence deals with the demands of COVID-19, the health system said in a press statement. Back in mid-March, in order to slow the spread of the virus, Confluence stopped performing elective procedures. But like other healthcare providers across the U.S., those procedures bring in most of Confluence’s annual profits.

“Today, because of COVID-19, Confluence Health is facing unprecedented challenges causing huge financial impacts to the organization’s bottom line,” Confluence Health board chair Patricia Ortiz Wachtel said in the statement. “The Board supports this decision to address the impact of COVID-19 to ensure we do not jeopardize the ability to fulfill our mission or compromise our future. Our community needs a healthy Confluence.”

Confluence Health is a nonprofit corporation overseeing the operations of Central Washington Hospital and its network of clinics. The corporation’s tax filings show in 2017, the most recent year reports were available, Rutherford earned almost $640,000 as chief executive officer. Salaries for the next highest executive tier—chief medical officer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer — ranged from $419,000 to $491,000.