Cleveland Clinic’s 5th-highest-paid employee in ’10 hasn’t worked for hospital since July ’09

Executives looking to depart from major American hospitals in the near future would do well to put in a call to the lawyer who negotiated David Strand’s severance agreement from the Cleveland Clinic.

Despite abruptly leaving the Clinic amidst cloudy circumstances and vague explanations in July 2009, former Chief Operating Officer Strand was the Clinic’s fifth-highest paid employee in 2010 at $1.3 million. What’s more, he received the largest raise, 18 percent, of any of the Clinic’s employees who were paid more than $1 million last year. Not too shabby for a guy who didn’t work one day at the health system the entire year.

In 2009, Strand received $1.1 million from the Clinic, making him the renowned hospital’s sixth-highest paid employee that year. In each of the last two years, Strand has been among the two highest-paid employees at the Clinic who don’t hold medical degrees.

So the obvious question becomes: Why was Strand’s severance so generous? Unfortunately, answering that one isn’t so obvious.


A Clinic spokeswoman declined to answer specific questions about employee compensation, such as whether Strand is due any money from the Clinic in 2011.

A spokesman for Strand’s new health IT company, LifeNexus, didn’t return a call.

Certainly the absence of full transparency on both sides about why Strand left – and the considerable size of his severance payments – invite speculation that he was pushed out. A lack of clarity around his role, plus a strained working relationship and personality conflicts with Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, led to Strand’s exit from the Clinic, one source said.

The story of Strand’s departure from the Clinic can’t be told without mentioning his wife, former Clinic Chief Experience Officer and an industry star in her own right, Dr. Bridget Duffy. The Clinic announced Duffy’s departure at the same time it did Strand’s. In public comments, the Clinic would only at the time allow that the Strand and Duffy’s departure was “mutual” and that the two “wanted to move on, move back home to California.” When reached by the Plain Dealer shortly after their departures were announced, the two ex-employees declined comment.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their exits from the Clinic, Strand and Duffy seem to have found success in their post-Clinic lives. They cofounded ExperiaHealth, a consulting firm that aims to help hospitals improve the patient experience and was acquired about a year ago by Vocera Communications.

In June, Strand joined Broomfield, Colorado-based LifeNexus as CEO, though he lives in San Francisco, according to his LinkedIn page. LifeNexus has essentially created a credit card that contains a user’s personal health information, such as prescription, insurance and emergency care information. LifeNexus’ personal health card can also be used as a debit card to pay for deductibles and copays.

Here’s a video of the company’s former CEO, and Strand’s predecessor, discussing the card.


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