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Apr 28, 2010 11:52 AM by Sharlee Jacobs

Questionable DHH Overtime Found by Inspector General

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Ten employees at a state-run home for
developmentally disabled patients in Ruston received 23,000 hours
of questionable overtime in 2008, and the state inspector general
questioned whether the employees were at work for the hours
reported, according to a report released Tuesday.
      "Our investigation revealed a health care facility that, at
best, kept employees at their posts past when any normal person
could function effectively to serve our patients," Inspector
General Stephen Street said.
      The investigation found that 10 employees at Ruston's Northeast
Supports and Services in Center, a 24-hour residential facility
with 90 developmentally disabled patients, were compensated more
than $407,000 for some 23,000 hours of questionable overtime. These
employees consistently reported working 16-hour days with minimal
time off between them.
      The total overtime reported was as much as 11 additional
employees would clock in a year of working 40-hour weeks, the
report says. One employee reported working 4,160 hours of overtime
despite being off sick for 56 work days. Another employee reported
working 41.5 hours in a 42-hour period, according to the report.
      The center is run by the Louisiana Department of Health and
Hospitals.
      The time the employees entered in their timesheets did not
always match the amount DHH timekeepers input into another
timekeeping system, the investigation found.
      The report questions whether the employees were actually at work
for the hours reported - and if they were, if they were sleeping on
the job or were rested enough to deal with the challenges of their
work.
      "Employees who are tired may lack the patience necessary to
deal with special needs clients such as those residing at
Northeast," the report says.
      Tony Keck, the deputy secretary of the Department of Health and
Hospitals, responded to the report in writing, saying documentation
that could have been created only if employees were on duty
verified much of the overtime in question. He did concede that such
documentation did not prove an employee was necessarily alert and
awake while on their shifts.
      The report recommended that DHH employ enough staff to fill
shifts with only reasonable overtime required and take steps to
make sure all staff are awake and alert for their shifts.
      Keck said DHH now is complying with a statewide directive from
February 2009 barring any state employee from working more than 32
hours in a pay period.
      The investigation also examined overtime for Louisiana State
Police employees, but did not uncover any "significant instances"
of questionable overtime. State Police did underbill local
authorities more than $27,000 for mileage and overtime due to flaws
in the payroll system, the inspector general said.

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