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Records Show That Valley Children's Leader Suntrapak's Pay Exceeds $5 Million
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By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
March 18, 2024

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Valley Children’s paid CEO Todd Suntrapak $5.2 million in 2021. The hospital also gave him a $5 million forgivable home loan.

The Valley Children’s board wants executives to be in the top 90% of hospitals in the country.

The Valley Children’s executive team earned $5.1 million in bonuses.


In 2021, the CEO of Valley Children’s Hospital made three times what the leader of the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, according to financial records.

And, while CEO Todd Suntrapak and other VCH executives receive top-tier salaries, the take-home pay of front-line Valley Children’s employees lags behind that of other local hospitals — and trails those at Memphis-based St. Jude’s.

The high rate of pay reported for Valley Children’s execs the past two years can be traced back to large bonuses, according to Vintage Foster, CEO of AMF Media Group, a communications group contracted by the hospital.

But even with significant bonuses paid in 2020 and 2021, executive payout at Valley Children’s has historically outpaced other hospitals.

Competitiveness in executive positions has Valley Children’s paying tens of millions of dollars to executives, including a $5 million forgivable real estate loan to keep Suntrapak in the position.

The rate of pay for front-line employees as a share of expenses, however, does not follow the trend for executive pay.

In 2020, Suntrapak’s pay shot far beyond other local hospitals. Foster said the pandemic year created a recruiting frenzy.

The board decided they wanted their CEO to be in the 90th percentile of compensation, Foster said.

“The board went out and got a third-party consultant, a compensation consultant in the hospital industry and they gave a very clear mandate — ‘we want our CEO to be in the 90% percentile,’” Foster said.

Suntrapak’s Pay Far Outpaces Other Hospital CEOs

IRS reports can be complicated, Foster said.

In 2021, Valley Children’s reported to the IRS that Suntrapak made $5.1 million in income. The year before, they reported $5.5 million to Suntrapak.

Because of bonuses and increased insurance coverage, Suntrapak’s pay appears much larger than it is, Foster said. In 2022, Suntrapak’s reported income will be closer to $2.4 million, he added.

Valley Children’s Hospital CEO Todd Suntrapak (left), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CEO James Downing (center), and Community Health Systems CEO Craig Castro. (GV Wire Composite)

On top of his $1.7 million base pay, he earned an executive bonus of $1.6 million. The hospital also paid $1.8 million as a one-time investment into his retirement benefit, Foster said.

The IRS reported Community Health System’s CEO, Craig Castro, earned $1.8 million in total pay. He also received $650,000 in “other compensation.” St. Agnes Medical Center former CEO Nancy Hollingsworth earned $831,148 and $62,846 in “other compensation.

In comparison, CEO James Downing of St. Jude’s — a children’s hospital known throughout the United States — made $1.5 million in 2021.

Suntrapak’s compensation package was by design, according to Foster. Suntrapak increased net assets by $210 million in a year many hospitals struggled, Foster said.

“He is one of the more handsomely-paid CEOs, but he also runs a top-20 children’s hospital,” Foster said.

Valley Children’s Execs Earn $5.1 Million in Bonuses While Front Line Workers’ Cash Pay Lags

The board gave the hospital’s executives large retention bonuses in 2021, Foster said. The hospital executive recruitment business can be highly competitiv, he said.

In 2021, Valley Children’s paid its executives $5.1 million in bonuses, including the $1.6 million to Suntrapak.

The $20 million spent on C-Suite pay reported to the IRS makes up 2.59% of the hospital’s expenses that year.

For comparison, Community Medical Centers and St. Agnes Medical Center executive pay did not break .5% of expenses. St. Jude spent .57% of expenses on executive pay.

At the same time, base pay to employees falls behind other hospitals. In 2019, both St. Agnes and Community Health worker pay made up more than 37% of expenses, compared to 30.76% of expenses.

In 2020, St. Agnes kept payroll around 37%. Community increased to more than 38%. Valley Children’s workers’ pay share of expenses dropped to 29.65%. However, when combining 401k matches and benefits, share of expenses comes into line with Community Health and exceeds that of St. Agnes.

Zara Arboleda, director of communications and public relations with Valley Children’s, said the hospital provided “thank you” bonuses to staff and raises averaging 10% in 2021.

In 2021 — the year executives received their $5.1 million bonus — the percentage of Valley Children’s Hospital’s expenses paid to workers dipped to 28.9%.

Suntrapak’s Carmel Home and $5 Million Real Estate Loan

In 2021, Valley Children’s reported a $5 million real estate loan to Suntrapak “in lieu of other compensation.” Research with the Fresno County Assesesor/Recorder’s Office showed that Suntrapak owns two homes in northwest Fresno.

The loan is part of the deal to keep Suntrapak in the position.

Beyond the two Fresno homes, Suntrapak owns a 3,200 square-foot home in Carmel, according to a real estate property search. According to Redfin, the home sold in March 2022 for $6.5 million.

“The loan is part of a retention mechanism. We know Todd receives recruitment calls, we know he is one of the best in the country,” said Arboleda.

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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