Valley Children’s chief Suntrapak: “Not for me to say” if $5.5mil salary is excessive

One day after Valley Children’s PR staff released a supercut of talking points from CEO Todd Suntrapak, the hospital chief sat down for his first TV interview in months with ABC30.

Valley Children’s CEO Todd Suntrapak sat down with ABC 30 on Tuesday for his first interview with local media since The Sun first reported that he received over $5 million in total compensation in 2020 and 2021 in March. 

ABC 30 has partnered with Valley Children’s and the Fresno Bee since 1988 on Kids Day, the annual fundraiser that has brought in over $11 million to the hospital. 


Points to the board: When asked why his total pay jumped from nearly $2.1 million in total compensation in 2019 to over $5.5 million in 2020, Suntrapak said it was the board’s decision. 

  • “I’ll start by saying I’m really proud of this team. And I’m proud of the work that we’ve done, and I’m proud of the work that I’ve done as CEO and leader,” Suntrapak said. “I don’t choose what my compensation is. Our board determines what the appropriate compensation is for the CEO, and they rely upon external experts to advise them, and to do quite a bit of analysis, then they make a determination.” 
  • The hospital has previously said that its accountants recommended a change to its bonus schedule, resulting in Suntrapak receiving his 2021 bonus in 2020 as well. Regardless, Suntrapak pulled in $5.1 million in total compensation in 2021. 

Suntrapak on his Carmel house: Valley Children’s also gave Suntrapak a $5 million forgivable home loan, which he used to purchase a $6.5 million home in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

  • He explained to ABC 30 that he is taxed on the portion of the loan that is forgiven annually. 
  • “There is a portion of the loan that is forgiven every year, which I am taxed on showed up on my W2’s and the term is 10 years,” Suntrapak said. “So again, the intent of the board, based on the assessment of my work, was wanting to retain me for that period of time. This was a tool that was available to them.” 
  • When asked if he felt his pay and bonus structure are excessive, he answered by saying he is proud of the work he has done at the hospital for close to 30 years. 
  • “My compensation is not something I choose,” Suntrapak said. “It’s the purview of the board, and they use external consultants who advise them on these things and then make those decisions. It’s not really for me to say.” 

Suntrapak on his peers: Suntrapak’s base pay of $1.7 million – before any bonuses or benefits – is close to the total compensation package that other CEOs of other children’s hospitals in California make. 

  • The CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles had a total package of $1.74 million in 2021, the CEO of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego had a total package of $1.71 million and the CEO of Children’s Hospital of Orange County received a total compensation package of $1.87 million. 
  • “It is difficult to know who you are comparing versus what peer group [the board] used to make their assessment,” Suntrapak said. “And I think, importantly, what we have created at Valley Children’s – we are in the top 3% of children’s hospitals in the country, as recognized by the Leapfrog group, which is a national enterprise focused on assessing quality and patient safety.” 

Suntrapak on calls for a state investigation: Fresno City Councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Miguel Arias have asked Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate how Valley Children’s uses state funding, including Medi-Cal dollars. 

  • Suntrapak rejected the notion that the hospital uses Medi-Cal funding to boost executive salaries. 
  • “I don’t agree with that statement, no,” Suntrapak said. “We certainly have commercial insurance that we charge for the services that we provide, as well as investment income – I am not aware that we have ever pinned any type of employee compensation to any type of revenue stream.” 

Suntrapak on losing public trust: When asked if the public perception and trust of Valley Children’s has changed since his salary has come to the public eye, Suntrapak gave a vague answer. 

  • “I have heard some people, again, anecdotal information,” Suntrapak said. “I’ve heard it directly, and I have heard more that have said we have every trust in Valley Children’s that we ever had. So, different people are entitled to different opinions.” 
  • He added that most donations given to the hospital are restricted, saying that anyone who wants to donate in the future simply needs to restrict the contribution to ensure what the money is used for. 
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