MetroHealth Under More Scrutiny for Payroll Decisions




Controversies in Cuyahoga County have slowed considerably since the FBI swooped in and rounded up the corruption all-stars, and even more so after County Exec Ed FitzGerald took office.

There are still a few strongholds of scandal in town though — big rocks with big bugs underneath, big reliable bugs. The Plain Dealer has latched onto two of them this year: the Cleveland police department, and MetroHealth hospital.

Metro's been under scrutiny for a small mountain bad PR moves, mainly involving management and payroll, and most notably the hire of former commissioner Tim Hagan to a lucrative part-time job.

And it was just last week that the PD pointed out that former CFO Sharon Kelley has an agreement with Metro to continue to collect her $440,00/year paycheck for six months, plus another six months if she doesn't find a job. (Real incentive for her to hit CareerBoard there, right?)

And now a fresh batch of outrage.

According to the PD, Metro's controller quit in July 2010. That's when the hospital began working with a consultant, Stephany Neel, to manage the position until a full-time controller could be hired.

Neel makes $275 an hour, and has collected more than $240,000 in salary and expenses since last year. The controller job pays $105,000 per year. Metro's explanation:

"We have been looking for a controller and haven't found one," said MetroHealth spokeswoman Phyllis Marino, who added that the health system offered the full-time job to Neel but she declined.

"Part of the benefit this outside controller has brought is [she] did reorganize accounting," Marino said. "She's been able to bring a fresh perspective to things and able to bring the latest practices and better benchmarks into MetroHealth."

There's plenty more at, including arguments from industry experts that consultants provide invaluable services, that Neel has been outstanding in her role, and rationalization for the price tag.

But it's hard to get the public past that last part — the price tag.

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