DMH addresses overtime payments to doctors

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is changing its policies on overtime, which were criticized in a state audit and have allowed some DMH physicians to make more than double their base salaries.

While the new policy should cut down on overtime payments, it still won’t limit the hours that DMH doctors can work.

As of July 1, doctors at state institutions no longer are authorized to work overtime. Instead, they are given “second assignments” to work on-call at the hospitals over nights and weekends.

They are paid between $72 an hour at Fulton State Hospital to $80 an hour at Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center. At Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center, doctors are paid $400 for being the on-call doctors overnight at the facility or $800 for the weekend.

DMH spokesman Bob Bax said the second assignments are more cost effective than if the department hired other doctors to work those shifts. This way, the department gives doctors a similar rate of pay for the extra hours, but doesn’t have to give more fringe benefits if it can split the shifts around existing employees.

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