LEWISTON, Maine — Pay for chief executive officers at most of Maine’s six largest hospitals and their parent organizations exceeded the national average, and in at least one case reached about $3 million a year, a published report said Sunday.

The Sun Journal analyzed figures for the most recent years for which tax information is available. It said nearly all of Maine’s six largest hospitals and their parent organizations gave their CEOs compensation packages worth more than the $490,000 national average in 2006.

In 2007-08, Maine Medical Center in Portland paid its CEO $3 million, including a bonus when he left. MaineHealth, the parent of Maine Medical, paid its CEO $1.2 million.

In 2005-06, Peter Chalke was CEO of both Central Maine Medical Center and Central Maine Healthcare. He earned just under $790,000: nearly $466,000 in salary and nearly $324,000 in benefits and deferred compensation, including retirement. A year later, his compensation more than doubled to about $2 million, including salary, benefits and deferred compensation.

Paul Dionne, Central Maine Healthcare’s board chairman, defended Chalke’s pay, saying Chalke’s compensation doubled in 2006-07 because the hospital group needed to make up for $929,000 in retirement contributions. Dionne said the board tries to compensate top executives well because it wants leaders who are experi-enced, efficient and capable visionaries.

High spending wasn’t confined to CEO salaries. One of the smallest hospitals in the state paid a nurse practitioner nearly $210,000 plus benefits.

At Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, CEO Deborah Carey Johnson was paid $443,000 in salary and $268,000 in benefits in 2008, according to federal tax filings. Dorothy Hill, the former CEO of The Acadia Hospital, was paid $284,142 in salary and $35,423 in benefits. Both hospitals are affiliates of Brewer-based Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, whose CEO, Michelle Hood, was paid a salary of $659,000 and benefits worth $22,000.

Sister Mary Norberta, CEO of St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, is shown as having been paid $318,623 in 2008, although much of her salary is returned to The Felician Sisters, the Connecticut-based Catholic order with which the hospital is affiliated.

Some Maine hospital groups, including MaineGeneral Health in Augusta, have recently trimmed executive pay in an effort to save money and to avoid cuts affecting lower-paid employees or patients.

All of Maine’s 39 acute care and specialty hospitals receive taxpayer money to care for poor and elderly patients. All but one are nonprofit, allowing them to get tax breaks and solicit tax-exempt donations.

BDN writer Meg Haskell in Bangor contributed to this report.