WIS Investigates: Kershaw hospital to pay CEO $524,000 in buyout

KershawHealth CEO Donnie Weeks listens as the hospital board votes to accept his retirement separation during a meeting on August 1.
KershawHealth CEO Donnie Weeks listens as the hospital board votes to accept his retirement separation during a meeting on August 1.

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The KershawHealth Foundation has turned over to WIS an agreement between its outgoing hospital Chief Executive Officer and the KershawHealth Board of Trustees. The agreement, signed on August 8, shows a one-time payment due to CEO Donnie Weeks on Jan. 3, 2014; Weeks' last day with the hospital.   

The agreement, signed by hospital board chairman Paul Napper and Weeks, states Weeks is "retiring in good standing" from the hospital. The agreement was voted on by the hospital board after an hour long executive session on August 1.

The agreement also shows the hospital board paid Barnwell attorney, Terry E. Richardson, $5,000 in "legal services" to put together the six-page "Transition Agreement and Release."

The agreement shows Weeks' last day is Jan. 3, 2014, but a clause in the agreement allows Weeks to not report to work any longer after a new CEO is hired. The hospital board voted last Thursday to hire Weeks' second in charge, Michael Bunch. Bunch is working under a two-year contract. The agreement requires Weeks to provide consultation to the hospital, even though Bunch has taken over.

The hospital board also agreed to continue to pay Weeks through Jan. 3, 2014, even though he is no longer working as the CEO, according to the contract. KershawHealth has required Weeks to be available "as needed" for consultation by "phone or email" through June 1, 2014, according to the agreement. The hospital may hire weeks as a consultant in the future, as the agreement states, "Nothing in this agreement shall prevent the hospital from entering into a formal, paid consulting agreement with Mr. Weeks."

The agreement also requires Donnie Weeks to pay the full amount of his insurance premium costs "of any continuation insurance coverage for which Mr. Weeks is eligible under 'COBRA,'" the agreement states.


The agreement between Donnie Weeks and KershawHealth requires both sides to keep the contract and the terms of the agreement secret. Page five of the agreement states, "Mr. Weeks and the Hospital expressly agree not to disclose the existence or the terms of this Transition Agreement and Release to any person or entity, other than Mr. Weeks' spouse, immediate family members, attorney or accountant."

The section also includes the line, "…except as may be required by law." That refers to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, which is the legal filing WIS had to undertake to obtain a copy of this agreement from The KershawHealth Foundation. Since KershawHealth accepts and spends tax dollars and the fact that its board is appointed by the Kershaw County council, the hospital's records are deemed public and its governing body is considered a public.


During our investigation into KershawHealth's spending, we obtained a copy of Donnie Weeks' employment contract through the state's Freedom of Information Act. The contract the hospital turned over to WIS was signed in September 2008 by former board chairman Jay Green and Weeks. We attempted to interview Green for our report, but Green never set up a time to meet with him.

Weeks could earn a bonus the contract called "Incentive Compensation," which allowed Weeks to earn up to 40 percent of his $332,994 base salary. Weeks earned $285,838 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012, records we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show. While KershawHealth was cutting staff in 2011, Weeks' personnel file shows he received a bonus of $96,219 that year. The records we have show Weeks' latest bonus was paid to him on Dec. 23, 2013 in the amount of $71,239.

KershawHealth paid the full cost of a $660,000 life insurance policy for Weeks, his contract shows. The policy could be more as the contract states $660,000 was the minimum, "Such insurance may be in one policy or combination of policies that equal at least the amount set forth herein," the contract states.

KershawHealth also gave Weeks a "Vehicle Allowance" of up to $600 each month or $7,200 a year.

A Dec. 6, 2010 amendment to Weeks' contract shows the hospital agreed to pay $9,500 each month into Weeks' "Kershaw County Medical Center Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan." The only requirement Weeks had to meet to receive the retirement payment was to remain employed by the hospital, according to the contract. The hospital called the $9,500 a month benefit the "Additional Monthly Credit."

KershawHealth owed Weeks $560,500 under the "Additional Monthly Credit," had Weeks continued working for the hospital through September 2015, according to the contract. Weeks agreed to leave the hospital on Jan. 3, 2014, which would bring his retirement payment benefit under the plan with KershawHealth to $361,000.

We have asked board chairman Paul Napper for an interview regarding Donnie Weeks' retirement agreement. As of this report, Mr. Napper has not returned our call.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.