In response to an article about Stony Brook University Hospital's overtime totals published Jan. 24 in Newsday, hospital CEO Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak and School of Medicine dean Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky wrote a letter explaining that the use of overtime in hospitals is widespread and justified.
Newsday originally reported that SBUH paid its employees more than $14.5 million in overtime costs in 2012.
It's justified because overtime for current employees typically costs less than a salary plus benefits that would go to a new hire, Pasternak and Kaushansky said. Salaries come from the hospital's general operations expenditures, while benefits and retirement contributions are taxpayer-funded because the hospital is a state institution, they said.
In their letter, Pasternak and Kaushansky wrote:
The use of overtime by hospitals is an important part of prudent management of patient care and is standard practice in the healthcare industry. ... Because the number of hospital patients fluctuates daily, hospitals need flexibility to call in nursing and other staff to care for additional patients, as caring for patients is our top priority. Paying staff overtime to voluntarily work additional shifts gives hospitals that flexibility.
Click here to read the full letter from Newsday (subscription required).