Last year, 18 executives at 11 Connecticut hospitals were compensated more than $1 million, according to a database released annually by the state Office of Health Care Access.

Hartford Hospital and Yale-New Haven Hospital each had four executives whose compensation exceeded $1 million, more than any other Connecticut hospital. Compensation includes fringe benefits such as retirement and health care benefits.

Each year for more than two decades, hospitals have been required to submit to the state compensation figures for the top 10 employees at each hospital. The list, available at, was released earlier this month, offering a look at salaries and the value of fringe benefits for hospital executives. The database only shows compensation by title, not by the person's name.

While the top-paid employee at any company typically might be the chief executive or president, that is not the case at a number of hospitals. The "fringe benefits" category can include the value of retirement at the end of a person's career.

For example, the top paid Hartford Hospital employee last year was former Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Neil Yeston, who received $3.35 million, of which $575,733 was salary and $2.78 million was in fringe benefits. Yeston was the second-highest paid hospital executive in Connecticut.

While declining to discuss specifics, large fringe-benefits packages typically represent the value of retirement plans and other benefits accrued over years, which is paid at a certain age, after a certain number of years of service or when a person stops working at the hospital, said Hartford Hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Stewart. Fringe benefits include any non-wage payment or benefit, including retirement pay, holiday pay, vacation pay, company funded life insurance, health insurance and unemployment benefits, she said.

"Executive compensation is market driven, data driven and subject to rigorous board oversight and government regulation," Stewart said in a prepared statement. "These compensation levels are based on comparable independent, market data and careful analysis. In order to attract executive leadership that can improve patient care services in the face of continually diminishing resources, compensation must be competitive and set at levels that will attract the best leaders."

The former president and CEO of William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich had the greatest compensation last year, $3,357,690, of which more than $3 million was in fringe benefits. Thomas Pipicelli retired as president of Backus Corp. on June 30, 2012.

Much of Pipicelli's compensation is the value of his pension accrued over 18 years, said Backus Hospital spokesman Shawn Mawhiney.

At Yale-New Haven Hospital, the top-paid executive is President and CEO Marna P. Borgstrom, who was compensated $2.8 million, of which $2.15 million was salary. Borgstrom has been CEO since 2005 and started working at Yale-New Haven in 1979. In addition to overseeing the hospital, Borgstrom is the chief executive of Yale-New Haven Health System, a hospital network of about 18,000 employees and an operating budget of about $3 billion, said hospital spokesman Vin Petrini.

Hospitals with the lowest-paid chief executive or president were New Milford and Rockville. At New Milford Hospital, the president was compensated $195,774, of which $182,847 was salary. At Rockville General Hospital, the CEO was compensated $240,340, of which $224,257 was salary.

Hospitals, like all organizations, need the right leaders to succeed, said Michele Sharp, director of communications for the Connecticut Hospital Association, a trade group. Compensation is carefully set by boards that include members of the community, she said.

"Hospital CEOs are responsible for the operation and performance of complex, dynamic organizations, with extensive physical plant operations, highly educated and skilled staff, and sophisticated, constantly advancing technological equipment and services," Sharp said. "It is a demanding and complex job with an extreme amount of responsibility."