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Ex-RVHS CEO gets #036;65,000

A $65,000 settlement with the ousted chief executive officer of Lawrence County's now-defunct hospital ignited a fury amongst former employees and at least one former hospital board member Monday.

A clause in former River Valley Health Systems CEO Terry Vanderhoof's contract will enable him to collect $65,000 of the $138,000 he says the hospital owed him in severance pay and accrued vacation and sick time.

"I didn't want him to get a penny," said Clara Mae Keaton, a former hospital worker, whose sentiment was echoed by many on hand expecting a formal hearing.

Instead, the settlement was reached Monday morning in a private meeting at the Lawrence County Courthouse, which further infuriated many.

"Terry Vanderhoof had what I call a 'golden parachute' clause in his contract. If he was discharged before the contract expired, he would be entitled to collect about $138,000 (in severance pay)," said Richard Myers, attorney for the receivership. "We could see this contract wrangling going on and on. Our interest was what's best for the creditors and for the employees. We saved about $70,000. We're sympathetic to the feelings of the people, but we have a contract that we didn't write, and didn't have a hand in but we're stuck with."

The contract, signed in 1995, included a clause stated that if the board terminated his contract early, Vanderhoof would be paid 1/12 monthly of his yearly salary and benefits in monthly payments until such time as he was re-employed but for no longer a period than 12 months.

Vanderhoof contended he was unemployed for seven months after he was fired in December 2000. The hospital, buried in debt, was closed the following month.

"This is a compromise of the law," said Dennis Grant, a Columbus attorney who represented Vanderhoof. "We thought he was entitled to more. The receivership didn't think he was entitled to that much. This is a settlement that makes everyone unhappy."

The settlement was reached privately between attorneys in the office of Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Frank McCown.

Several former hospital employees went to the courthouse Monday to attend the hearing. When word of the settlement reached them, they were visibly angered.

One woman who refused to give her name said she hoped that people would vote to get rid of anyone in public office who had a hand in the demise of the hospital.

Former RVHS board member Ron Davis, who came to the courthouse just as the settlement was reached, said it angered him.

"This is terrible for the local people," Davis said. "I think it's an injustice because of what happened to the hospital. The local people ought to be up in arms about this. The local people took it on the chin- again."