Overtime Use at WSH

In the past years I have posted much data regarding Western State Hospital overtime use numbers.  In 2014 I was the co-chair of the Joint Nurse Staffing Committee and had created the first mathematical staffing model for Western State Hospital…  Using staffing data I created a method by which we could derive exact numbers of permanent positions that were required to provide base staffing and null out overtime taking all factors into consideration.  This data was provided to all levels of supervision within DSHS as well as to the office of Governor.  The numbers that were produced were staggering and remain posted in my blog history.  All of this data can be found on this website. 


My projections for staffing in 2014 turned out to be highly accurate based on current statistical data.  Recently Western State Hospital had only requested less the half the direct patient care staffing that was required to meet base staffing needs.  DSHS states that it has gone on a “hiring spree.”  The fact is that DSHS more than doubled the size of its administration while requesting less than half of the direct patient care personnel that were needed to provide safe care.  You can see the Joint Nursing Staffing Committee proposal here.  Here is a copy of my 2014 staffing model with projections for the need to hire an additional 178 full time direct patient care staff members.


Because of my mathematical projections, I have maintained a keen interest in overtime levels to determine the accuracy of my mathematical model projections.  My last blog did a similar review.  The information is compiled from a program called Scheduler, which tracks direct patient care attendance and overtime statistics.  


Below are actual screen results from Scheduler…  These are reports of the amount of overtime utilized from 1/1/16 to 5/21/16 compared to the amount of overtime utilized from the exact same period of time in 2017.


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In the above report you will note that from 1/1/16 to 5/21/16 WSH utilized 95,218.5 hours of overtime.  Although we cannot utilize the standard eight hour period to reflect a full shift worked for all WSH employees, as Washington Federation employees only work seven hours and forty five minutes per day while all other classifications work a full eight hours per day (see 15 minute issue), at least we can provide an idea of how many true full time employees are represented by the above numbers.  


95,218.5 hours divided by 8 (a full shift, except for WFSE employees) equals 11,902.3 full shifts worked by overtime (time and a half wages).  


A typical 8 hour employee (not a WFSE employee) works 52 weeks per year for 40 hours per week.  Thus a typical full time employee works 2080 hours per year.  If you divide 95,218.5 hours by 2080 you get the fact that for this period the state could have fully paid 45.8 full time full year employees with the amount of overtime used.


Now lets look at the level of overtime Western State Hospital utilized in 2017 for the same exact period of time as was calculated for 2016.


screenshot 248


In 2017 for the exact same period of time, Western State Hospital utilized 108,664.5 hours of overtime.  That is 13,446 hours MORE than was utilized for the exact same period in 2016 AFTER the “hiring spree.”  13,446 hours of overtime is the equivalent of paying an ADDITIONAL 6.5 full time full year employees.


  • In 2017 from 1/1 to 5/21 (not even a half a year) WSH paid the equivalent of 52 full time full year employees if you do not count the time and a half paid to those employees…  Just hours worked.


Western State Hospital cannot operate daily without voluntary and/or mandatory overtime.  Often minimum base staffing numbers are not maintained.  Administration does not currently provide fire check personnel, thus most wards operate with one staff member less per ward than is required to maintain safe patient care.


The key to reforming Western State Hospital is to provide adequate direct patient care staffing to meet patient needs.  Current statistics indicate the requirement of an additional 130 full time direct patient care employees IF the current need for overtime remains static…  It will NOT as we are now going into annual leave season.  Only after looking at the full year statistics can we make this projection.  My original 2014 projections indicated we needed 178 additional full time direct patient care staff members.  The final joint nurse staffing committee report indicated the need for 135.  DSHS asked for less than this for direct patient care.  



© Paul Vilja 2017