Stony Brook Hospital ranks second in state's overtime pay

The exterior of University Hospital and Medical Center

The exterior of University Hospital and Medical Center at Stony Brook located at 101 Nicolls Rd. in Stony Brook. (June 24, 2009) (Credit: James Carbone)

ALBANY - Stony Brook University Hospital paid out the second-most in overtime pay among state entities in 2012 and four of the top 10 overtime earners on the state payroll were Long Islanders, according to records.

While the state workforce has been trimmed over the past few years, five employees earned more than $100,000 annually in overtime pay alone and another 15 earned $80,000 or more, according to records kept by the state comptroller's office. Dozens were paid more in overtime than in salary by logging thousands of extra hours, according to records obtained by a Freedom of Information request.

The Stony Brook medical facility paid more than $14.5 million in overtime alone in 2012, second only to the State Police. The hospital's overtime costs jumped 13 percent from the previous year. Officials there didn't immediately return calls or emails seeking comment.

That increase mirrors a statewide trend, as overall overtime pay increased by 11 percent, to $520 million.

Last year, no one in New York registered more overtime hours than Ram Kumar Choudhary, who is listed on payroll records as a secure treatment aide at Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills.

Choudhary logged 2,804.25 overtime hours in 2012 -- more than 56 hours per week or 11 hours per work day, based on a 50-week work year. He was paid $101,715 in overtime alone, on top of $44,762 in annual pay. He ranked No. 1 in overtime hours and No. 4 in pay.

A person who identified himself as Choudhary hung up on a Newsday reporter when contacted. A Sagamore official referred inquiries to the state Office of Mental Health, which didn't immediately comment.

The top OT earner in New York in 2012 was Mercy M. Mathew, a nurse at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a women's prison in Westchester County. She is paid an annual salary of $58,468 -- but earned another $150,630 by working 2,517 overtime hours, according to state records. That means Mathew averaged more than 50 overtime hours per week for 50 weeks.

Mathew couldn't be reached for comment. A person who answered the phone at Bedford Hills said Mathew wasn't working Thursday and hung up. State officials didn't immediately comment. The Cuomo administration has said some of the overtime growth was because of superstorm Sandy.

Most of the top earners were nurses or health aides at public hospitals, mental health centers, prisons and facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Rowena Abesamis, a cardiac nurse at Stony Brook Hospital, ranked No. 10 in overtime pay. She earned $92,824 in overtime on top of her $72,076 salary. She is listed as working 1,197 overtime hours last year.

"I'm on call. You get paged any time -- in the middle of the night -- that they need you. I take a lot of the calls," Abesamis said. She said nurses get paid for being on call and if they are brought in for an emergency, they get a minimum of four hours overtime credit.

The East Setauket resident said her overtime hours increased in 2012 because several other nurses were out sick or injured during the year. She said she stays home weekends to be on call, that she's the main provider for her family, that they're paying tuition at Stony Brook University for her daughter and that she helps support family members in the Philippines.

"I really like working hard," Abesamis said. "I'm getting as much [overtime] as I can."

Another Stony Brook Hospital nurse, Phyllis Catanzaro, ranked fifth in the state in overtime pay, earning $101,594 on top of her $58,468 salary. Another Sagamore nurse, Emille Michel, ranked No. 6, earning $99,802 in overtime on top of a $58,468 salary. Attempts to reach Michel and Catanzaro were unsuccessful.

The State Police paid, by far, the most in overtime of any specific state entity: $34 million -- up significantly from the $25.9 million paid in 2011. The Long Island Developmental Center ranked No. 8 with $10.7 million. LIDC is an umbrella name that covers several state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities facilities on Long Island.

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