Former head of UW Hospitals to get $1.3M severance

Katen-Bahensky to retire Monday
Former head of UW Hospitals to get $1.3M severance
Donna Katen-Bahensky

The former president and CEO of the UW Hospitals and Clinics will retire from her job Monday and yet still earn at least $1.3 million in severance pay.

Records released to News 3 detail the exit agreement between Donna Katen-Bahensky and the UW, including how she will be paid her annual salary of $853,500 for the next 18 months. In addition, Katen-Bahensky will receive an “incentive bonus” earned during the last fiscal year, which will be calculated by the hospital’s Executive Compensation Committee in the next couple of weeks.

Katen-Bahensky’s position was set to be eliminated after the integration of the UW Hospital and its physicians group and the UW Medical Foundation. Instead of facing the elimination of her position, Katen-Bahensky decided to retire. The exit letter, written and signed by David Walsh, the chairman of the UWHC Board of Directors, clearly states Katen-Bahensky would not have maintained employment at the hospital in the future.

“Your separation will be treated as an involuntary separation occurring as the result of a major organization,” reads the agreement also signed by Katen-Bahensky. “The Hospital has not offered you a reasonably comparable position. The fact that your separation is being referred to as a retirement publicly… does not change the nature of your separation which was involuntary but not for Cause.”

In addition to the severance package, both parties agreed not to make “any verbal, written, or electronic slanderous, derogatory, disparaging or negative statement against or about the other party.” The hospital also agreed to provide Katen-Bahensky with a letter of reference.

Katen-Bahensky started at UWHC in February 2008. Before that, she served as CEO at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The Associated Press reported she was fired from that position after she did not support a merger of the university hospital and the university’s medical school. The wire service reported she was given $830,000 in severance pay at that time.