Sam Downing, the former CEO of Salinas (Calif.) Valley Memorial Healthcare System was found dead in his home last week, according to local reports.
Downing, 73, died of an apparent suicide. Downing's son wrote on Facebook that his father "was suffering [from] serotonin syndrome."
Downing served as CEO of Salinas Valley Memorial from 1985 to 2011.
The taxpayer-subsidized public hospital came under scrutiny then for the size of Downing's severance package—worth $4.9 million. That led to a critical report from the California state auditor.
Downing worked at the system for a total of 40 years, having climbed up to the top office after starting as an administrative assistant. He also served as an adviser to the Clinton administration and was board chair of Beta Healthcare Group, the largest provider of hospital malpractice coverage in California.