Friday, July 20, 2007

$95K for a Nurse?

No wonder health-care is expensive.

In the middle of a story blaming Scott Walker for Global Warming The War in Iraq The End of the World the County Budget--you know, the Budget the County Board passes--well, anyway, we find that the Behavioral Health Division should hire five nurses:

The finance panel Thursday recommended hiring of five additional nurses for the division, at a yearly cost of $479,000.

That's quite a paycheck-per-nurse.


theurbanfabric said...

Dad29, do you know any nurses? Rather, do you know what nurses do? Behavioral health nurses deal with some of the most difficult people on a daily basis, trying to help them cope with their illness. I would like you to do a nurse’s job for one week and then decide how much their skills are worth. Much like teachers, police and firemen their skills are much undervalued!

Dad29 said...


It's a hard job.

Life is difficult.


theurbanfabric said...

No, no, not yah life is difficult. Be compassionate for the people who help and need help. Why are you are complaining that the nurses will get paid too much if your response is so uncaring? You don’t live in Milwaukee County so why does it matter to you?

Anonymous said...

As a nurse at BHD, I think most nurses make $50-60,000 per year in salary.
Of course, don't forget we are in the nurses union and we have great benefits including low cost health insurance and a generous pension. These items most likely add up to the $95,000 a year. As someone who was formerly self employed and paid $1200/ month for health insurance, I love my county benefits and it is one of the reason I chose to work there. I also know that these benefits are unusual in the real world.

Dad29 said...

I understand compassion, Jess. So that means that someone should work for a living wage--to be compassionate.

As the next poster indicates, about 50% of the compensation is benefits--FAR more than those afforded in the private sector.

Jess--to whom, exactly, are you being compassionate? County taxpayers? The poor? Well--then--work for LESS.

Since a chunk of my State income taxes flow to Milwaukee County, and my Fed taxes also support the County AND Medicare/aid, I actually get a vote, Jess.

Karen Marie said...

Just because the "private sector" treats its workers, who create its value, like garbage is not an argument for us taxpayers to do the same to the workers who provide the necessary services to have alivable civil society.

Anonymous said...

"Private sector" hospitals do just fine attracting RN's. There are not enoough of them around--but a hospital can get what it wants without spending 50-100% of payroll on benefits so that their nurses can retire at age 55.

theurbanfabric said...

Dad29, you should be more compassionate in your response about those that need the help (i.e., the mentally ill). You seem very calloused and focused on the fact that the nurses are getting paid too much. I may be na├»ve, but I don’t think the County would pay someone more than they are worth. I am guessing they can’t get quality nurses to work at the Mental Health Complex for less. As a Christian, you should want qualified nurses to be there to help the mentally ill. I’m not saying they should be paid an unreasonable amount of money but they are doing an amazingly hard job.

Of course you get a vote. As someone who also pays taxes, I think we should help where we can and if we have the resources ($$$). It is our responsibility!

Personally, I am a nurse and I make less than $50,000 in the private sector. I am not in the nurses union. As far as I know the only hospital in Milwaukee that has a union is St. Francis Hospital; I’m not sure about the Mental Health Complex.

Anonymous said...

Dad29, your man GK would be ashamed of your stance on this issue. Try putting your treasure in Heaven and don't be so obsessed with the almighty dollar. (The $95 K that you cite is hardly egregious...sanitation workers in Brookfield make a similar salary; get the speck out of your own elitist, pre-fab, exurban eye.) This blog would be better served if you handed it over to Christians like Jessie.

Dad29 said...

Most people who can comprehend what they read cannot conclude that I do not want professional compassionate care for MHD patients from the initial post.

Those who CAN comprehend got the point immediately: $95K is a lot of money for an RN. Looks like at least a 50% benefits-load on top of a salary.

And, Anony 10:00 7/24, there ARE no "sanitation workers" in Brookfield. If you sorta, kinda meant "DPW employees," then you're obligated to provide a bit of documentation for that.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, there are sanitation workers in Brookfield. In fact, there is an entire Sanitation Department within the Dept. of Public Works. (Your attempt to prove your own knowledge only shows how uninformed you really are.) And despite your mandate, I am not obligated to provide anything that is so readily available to the public already -- for anyone willing to do a spot of their own research rather than opining ad hominem, maladroit pontifications.

And as long as you're so worried about $$$, why don't you direct an occasional aspersion at the MDs (who often do far less real work than RNs) who make hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that is essential to the life and well-being of others?

I CAN comprehend your desire to reveal and expose irresponsible budgetary decisions, and I respect you for that, but I CAN also comprehend your stubborn resistance to admitting when you're wrong.

I've been a fan of your blog for a while, Dad29, but I'm discouraged by this post and your tone toward Ms. Jessie; if you hunt deer like you hunt budget inconsistencies, I'd hate to be stuck sharing a blind with you.

Dad29 said...

Let's get something straight, Anony. YOU raised a red herring about City workers. It's not relevant to the discussion.

I am NOT wrong when I question $95K/person for RN's. In the first place, there's nothing to be "wrong" about when one RAISES A QUESTION. Get into the logic of rhetoric someday and buy a clue.

Since all you've done is raise red herrings (sanitation workers and MDs) and make accusations with no foundation (e.g., that I don't think people need care), it seems to me that you're very defensive here--which doesn't lead to rational discourse, by the way.

In the real world, benefits are about 20-35% of salary. That means that an RN earning $50K salary will actually cost between $60K-$70K (tops.) One earning $60K in salary will cost $72K-$85K, or so.

Only in Gummint can someone take in 50+% in benefits (assuming a $60K salary--or, if the salary is $70K, benefits equal to 36% of salary (to come up with $95K).

THAT is the substance of the question. NOT the earnings of sewer-workers, nor MD's.

IOW, it's entirely likely that the County is paying beyond competitive--which is why I raised the question in the first place.

And thanks, but I don't need your assistance in hunting deer, squirrels, or chipmunks. And like most deer-hunters, I hunt from a stand, not a "blind," which is used for fowl.

theurbanfabric said...

Dad29, I do think I understood the initial post. By stating that the nurses are getting paid too much, you are inferring that high-quality care is not worth a high cost. By stating that the nurses are getting paid too much is inferring that you don’t want quality care because of the cost. You seem to be saying you want good quality care but don’t want to pay for it. I do think $95,000 is high but I’m sure part of that money does go toward training and benefits that is part of any job.

All I really want to say is appreciate the nurses and people who serve; they don’t get thanked often and need some encouragement. I work with some mentally ill patients and they are the hardest people to take care of and are the least likely to show any appreciation. Just say, “Thank you for doing a job not many people want to do.”

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. I guess we have to agree to disagree.

Based on your profile, I thought you might be too old to get up into a stand.

Dad29 said...

Jessie, I know both RNs and LPNs who work with mental patients (not to mention lots of OTHER patients). Generally, they do outstanding work which goes without proper accolades, or thanks. So your reminder to say "gracias" is timely and appropriate.

But I did NOT SAY THAT THEY WERE OVERPAID! Read the last graf of the post. I think that $95K is a lot of compensation--which is NOT the same as the actual salary.

The point, Jessie, is that the bennies-loading here is simply excessive (see my response to Anony.) It's in excess of the bennies typically afforded by private hospitals.

You seem to argue that the RNs at (say) St. Joseph Hospital are not "high-quality" because their total compensation is LESS than what's paid at County. Do you believe that? I don't.


Don't judge a book by its cover. You do that entirely too often for your own good.

Anonymous said...

I think most reasonable people would interpret "paycheck" (per your original post) as salary. Your original post says nothing about compensation, so this is the first time that you've posited this distinction. If you're hedging away from your original statement, fine, but everyone knows that you were, in fact, saying that these nurses are overpaid.

The inflamatory (especially for any nurse reading your blog) headline reads: "$95K for a Nurse?" To me -- and all your readers, I'm sure -- that can only be translated as: "No nurse should be paid $95K." i.e., Nurses aren't skilled enough to make that much; they aren't worth that much; it's a waste of money to pay them that much; yada, yada, yada...

And if anyone is jumping to conclusions, it's you, Dad. You assume that I "judge a book by its cover...entire too often." You know that from my handful of recent posts? Quite a rush to sweeping judgement.

theurbanfabric said...

Dad29, I don’t know what the benefits are when working for the County. The original intent of this post is getting lost. When I first read it I was very angry because I interpreted what you wrote as saying that a nurse isn’t worth spending the money-either on actual salary or benefits.

You seem to have great arguments. Thank you for your thoughts and probing me to defend mine. I am done arguing with someone I don’t know. This has been the first blog I’ve read and responded to, now I’m done.

Dad29 said...

Anony, my use of the term 'paycheck' was inaccurate--it should have been "total compensation." But then, Jessie and others here have demonstrated that THEY understand the use of the terminology. This is a friggin' blog, not an Econ dissertation.

You refuse to get the point.

The question I raised is 'whether the County SHOULD be popping $95K per nurse, given that PRIVATELY run hospitals do not do so'.

In other words, a standard has been set by Aurora, Covenant, et al; why should the County (and State) taxpayers have to come up with more than that standard?

Your line of argument leads to the conclusion that Aurora (et al) under-pay their RN's. I disagree, without disputing the value of RN's in general.

I'll go further with you on that; in the case of the City of Brookfield's 'sanitation workers,' (whatever they do), I am not certain that THEIR total compensation is in line with private-sector comparables. That would be another topic, requiring more research which I'm not going to do soon.

Stew away. Personally, I think that there are LOTS of people who are "underpaid." But then, there are LOTS of people who over-consume, as GKC has also pointed out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that response. And thanks for taking the time to carefully consider my contrarian views. Much appreciated.

P.S. I'm a free-market capitalist, but I hate Aurora and what it has done to SE WI health care -- just thought I'd throw that in. Have a good evening and rest of the week.

P.S.S. Stewing...

Dad29 said...

Anony, you could search on my blog to find out how much I dislike Aurora. THEY have, by the way...

My week will be just fine, except for the regrets I have in learning that Simplicity lawn mowers will now be made in PRChina or wherever.