Overtime costs soar at Office of Mental Health
Posted at: 10/29/2012 5:59 PM
| Updated at: 10/30/2012 3:13 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
_ALBANY - Patients with serious mental illness are treated at the Capital District Psychiatric Center in Albany. It's just one of the facilities run by the State Office of Mental Health, also known as "OMH."
The agency regulates, certifies and oversees 4500 programs across New York, from suicide prevention to counseling. But as NewsChannel 13 learned, the employees that get all that done, rack up a lot of overtime.
Records we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show overtime expenses at OMH spiked nearly eight-million-dollars over the last two years, topping 82 million dollars...and taxpayers foot that bill.
Some of the agency's employees made more than twice their base salary.
Just consider at what a secure care treatment aide at a Bronx OMH facility pulled down in overtime last year: nearly $116,000. That's 240% over his base salary of $48,000.
Here in the Capital Region, a mental health therapy aide earned $88,000 in overtime on top of her annual salary of $43,000.
And a psychiatric nurse, earned nearly $80,000 in overtime over her base pay of nearly $56,000.
"They're totally not acceptable. Out of control overtime is still a problem in state agencies in the state of New York. And I think we need to do something about it," said Senator Jeff Klein, a Democrat from the Bronx.
Klein chairs the Task Force on Government Efficiency, and said there's not enough oversight at state agencies like OMH to make sure overtime is justified.
"I think we have to use overtime as a performance indicator. To reward managers or punish managers whose agencies have very high overtime," he said.
What explanation does the Office of Mental Health have for overtime expenses, that has soared more than 14% over two years?
Commissioner Michael Hogan's office wouldn't answer our questions.
But the union that represents many of the nurses at OMH says overtime is caused by a drastic staff shortage.
"People are working shifts that are basically just wearing them out. And that they are doing the work of two and three people," said Susan Kent, PEF President.
Kent said the nurses aren't trying to boost their pay by taking overtime shifts, but instead, just scrambling to cover the required care.
"Anyone that has a loved one in an OMH facility wants to make sure that their loved one is being taken care of. If there's not a nurse there I don't think that they'd want the result that would happen," she said.
The top ten OMH overtime earners, for the fiscal year 2011-2012:
1. Ram Choudhary, Secure Care Treatment Aide, Bronx CPC, $115,680
2. Robert Henry, Security Hospital Treatment Assistant, Mid-Hudson, $106,333
3. Emille Michel, Nurse 2, Bronx CPC, $93,830
4. Mary Riley, Mental Health Therapy Aide, CDPC, $88,134
5. Lucky Alozie, Nurse 2 Psychiatric, Manhattan, $85,674
6. Mohamed Mujtabah, Mental Health Therapy Aide, Pilgrim, $82,198
7. Michael Marlow, Security Hospital Treatment Assistant, Mid-Hudson, $81,537
8. Abena Nyarkoadomfeh, Nurse 2 Psychiatric, CDPC, $79,709
9. Hadley Brown, Security Hospital Treatment Assistant, Central NY PC, $79,448
10. Myong, Carrion, Nurse 2 Psychiatric, Bronx CPC, $76,549