The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 13, 2014

2 Valley docs’ pay in Top 5

Danville State Hospital overtime accounts for 42% of state checks

DANVILLE — Two physicians at Danville State Hospital were paid at least $288,000 in 2013, with more than 40 percent of those earnings in overtime, according to the state Department of Public Welfare.

Dr. Harish Dave and Dr. Michael Brogna were the third- and fifth-highest paid state employees in 2013, earning $300,739 and $287,129, respectively.

Dave, the hospital’s director of medical services, provides medical advice to various professionals and lay staff and participates in direct patient care and treatment.

Dave earned $153,272 in base salary, collected $132,224 in overtime and received $17,000 in bonuses. Forty-four percent of his pay was in overtime and bonuses.

Brogna, a physician specialist for internal medicine, provides patient care and medical services.

Brogna earned $137,663 in base salary, collected $120,276 in overtime and received $22,600 in bonuses. Forty-two percent of his pay was in overtime and bonuses.

State officials defended the pay, saying hiring another physician to work part time would not be a solution to reducing high overtime rates.

“The commonwealth is committed to providing quality care to all regions of the state,” said Kait Gillis, Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman. “In order to secure and retain quality care providers, competitive compensation is required.

“Pennsylvania has chosen a system of care that led to the elimination of the use of restraints and patients must see a physician prior to sedation medication being administered. This has created a need for 24/7 care from our doctors at the locations.”

Danville is one of six state hospitals in Pennsylvania. The others are Clarks Summit, Torrance, Warren, Norristown and Wernersville.

Danville State Hospital had 167 patients in January and never exceeded 172 throughout the year. Some patients have been at the hospital for more than 20 years, while others have more than 50 years in the state system.

Physicians need to be readily available, Gillis said, and that’s why they can also receive bonuses.

“The physicians also receive quality assurance payments and bonuses,” Gillis said. “The quality assurance payments range from $15,000 to $20,000 a year and a certification bonus.

“A doctor who is on call is required to be available for service at the facility within 20 minutes after receipt of a telephone call. They are compensated at 25 percent of their base hourly rate for being on call and if called in for emergency duty, paid at the full base hourly rate for hours worked.

“We’re talking nights and weekends when the doctors are not regularly scheduled to work.”

Paying the overtime is better than hiring more or part-time physicians, Gillis said.

“The cost of hiring new staff, including benefit costs, exceeds the overtime expenses,” she said.

The office of mental health and substance abuse is a state agency within the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare that administers and manages the mental health block grant program as well as the behavioral health programs.

According to Gillis, that agency’s hospital operations budget is $387 million and its overall spending plan is $952 million, which includes $565 million targeted for community mental health grants.

 

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