State Nurses Collecting Unusually High Payouts From Working Overtime
Much of the overtime pay is concentrated in mental health hospital and prison settings.
Details of Overtime Charges
The state has paid more than $424 million in overtime for nurses since 2005, according to the data.
In 2010, state nurses received a total of $98.7 million in overtime at a time-and-a-half pay rate.
One prison nurse received $331,346 in 2008, including $211,257 in overtime.
According to Bloomberg, California public nurses' pay is significantlyÂ higher than the national average of $67,720 for registered nurses.
Factors Leading to High Overtime Pay
Officials pointed to several factors that might contribute to nurses working more overtime hours, including:
- Furloughs implemented in 2009 that led nurses to work overtime to compensate for reduced staffs; and
- Prison hunger strikes that led nurses to work longer hours to provide proper medical care.
Labor union officials said they have encouraged state mental health and prison hospital officials to more efficiently schedule nurse staffing hours to help reduce the amount of overtime worked by individual nurses.
State officials said they are working to implement strategies to curb overtime work.
Nancy Kincaid --Â a spokesperson forÂ J.Â Clark Kelso, the federally appointed receiver in charge of California's prison health care system -- said Kelso has dispatched a management team to prisons with high overtime and sick-leave totals to identify factors contributing to high overtime and pay rates.
Meanwhile, Kathy Gaither -- acting chief deputy director of the state Department of Mental Health -- said the department's recently announced plans to overhaul mental health care programs will make staff-to-patient ratios more flexible. Gaither added that the plans also will help nurses provide more direct patient care instead of completing paperwork duties (Marois, Bloomberg, 12/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.