Valley Children’s response to execs’ sky-high salaries? The Valley should be so lucky.

A Bay Area PR expert tasked with confronting Valley Children’s Hospital’s controversy of higher-than-normal salaries took to radio to make the case for the pay rate.

Valley Children’s Hospital broke its silence over the pay of its executive team late Monday, noting that the more than $5 million in total compensation that Chief Executive Officer Todd Suntrapak received both in 2020 and 2021 was due to bonuses that will not be present in future tax returns when they are filed.

The hospital, who retained an outside spokesman to respond to The Sun’s reporting, also noted that Suntrapak’s higher-than-average pay was an ultimate indicator of his ultimate value to hospital’s bottom line.


The backstory: The Sun reported Monday that Suntrapak received more than $5.5 million in total compensation in tax year 2020 and $5.1 million in 2021, an increase from $2.096 million in 2019. 

  • Suntrapak had a higher total compensation package than all but two of the CEOs leading the 15 larger children’s hospitals in the United States. 
  • Valley Children’s also had a total executive payroll of $26.95 million in 2021, around double what comparable children’s hospitals spend, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

Valley Children’s pushback: Vintage Foster, the CEO of media consultancy AMF Media Group based out of the Bay Area, spoke to KMJ on Tuesday morning and to GV Wire on behalf of Valley Children’s. 

  • Foster has not reached out to The Sun, and the hospital has not responded to questions posed by The Sun last week. 
  • Answering questions on KMJ’s Broeske & Musson show, Foster said the accounting firm the hospital used – Moss Adams LLP – recommended a change to the time period to award bonuses to the executive team, meaning the executive staff were paid out two bonuses in one year. 
  • Foster said Suntrapak’s take-home pay in 2021 was $3.2 million. Suntrapak’s total compensation in 2021, however, was still $5.1 million when accounting for benefits. 
  • According to GV Wire, Suntrapak’s reported income in 2022 will be around $2.4 million, and Foster told KMJ that the CEO that the 2023 number will be $3.1 million, which he equated to a 40 percent pay cut going purely on the number reported on Form 990. 
  • “I hope everybody who plays this game in the media reports the story that Todd took – what would that be – a 40 percent pay cut, because that’s what you would have to say if you actually use the Form 990 inappropriately,” Foster said. 
  • Foster also said the hospital worked with an outside consultant to review where Suntrapak’s total compensation package should be. The consultant firm recommended a salary boost and increased retirement package, which were reflected in the 2020 and 2021 tax returns. 

Suntrapak’s value: The discussion on Broeske & Musson turned to how Valley Children’s increased its net assets from $517 million in 2011, when Suntrapak took over as CEO, to $1.68 billion in 2021. 

  • Foster said Suntrapak has been an integral driving force behind the hospital’s asset increase and praised the overall work he performs. 
  • “I have probably worked with 25 to 30 healthcare organizations in the last 10 years across California and western Canada, and I would tell you that when it comes to vision, fiscal management, recruitment – which is a huge issue for you all, recruitment – and kind of understanding where healthcare is going to go and how to apply the best practices for care, I would tell you Todd’s one of the best I’ve ever met,” Foster said. 

New details emerge: Foster did not discuss the $5 million home loan that Suntrapak received from Valley Children’s with KMJ, which was reported on the 2021 tax return. 

  • Property records show that Suntrapak purchased a home in Carmel-by-the-Sea for $6.5 million in 2022. 
  • GV Wire reported that the $5 million home loan is forgivable, meaning Suntrapak – subject to the length of time he must stay at Valley Children’s for his loan to be forgiven – earned an additional $5 million in 2021 on top of the $5.1 million in total compensation he received. 

Board member involvement: The Sun reached out to Valley Children’s board members asking about Suntrak’s compensation, as well as the total payout to executives, but did not receive any responses by publication. 

  • Sources with intimate knowledge of board action note that hospital board members at-large were not apprised of the formula underpinning Suntrapak’s total compensation package, nor those of his subordinates.
  • Those sources confirmed that the Valley Children’s Board of Trustees operates a compensation committee, which was ultimately tasked with hiring the compensation consultant and approving the compensation regime.

Suntrapak’s pay breakdown: Here’s a look at the breakdown of Suntrapak’s total compensation from 2012, his first full year as CEO, to 2021 – pulled from Form 990: 

YearBase compensationBonus & incentive compensationOther reportable compensationRetirement and other deferred compensationNontaxable benefitsTotal
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