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Calif. state psychiatrists' see salary increase with bidding war

7:04 PM, Dec 13, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Jerry Brown may be the state's top official, but his salary as governor is over four times less than what one particular state psychiatrist made last year.

While the median salary for state psychiatrists across the country was $195,000, here in California 93 made more than $300,000 and another 15 made over $400,000.

However, one psychiatrist, Dr. Mohammad Safi, made over $822,000. Safi is currently on administrative leave, his case under investigation.

Department of State Hospitals spokesperson David O'Brien said Safi "is currently on administrative leave because of his time reporting, but (we) cannot comment further due to the ongoing investigation."

But, Safi's attorney, Edward Caden, said that his client made that much money because of the amount of time he was on call when other psychiatrists refused.

"Physicians cannot be required to take on-call duty unless the state provides a facility on the grounds of the hospital for the on-call physician to stay," Caden said.

However, it is a requirement that there be a physician on-call.

Safi works at the Salinas Valley Psychiatric Program at Soledad; it is a facility that has no quarters for on-call physicians.

"Dr. Safi is a manager, so when the union physicians decide they don't want to be on call, who's left holding the bag?" Caden said.

Data compiled by the Bloomberg Report indicates salaries skyrocketed because of a bidding war that erupted between higher paying state prisons and state mental hospitals. At first, the court ordered salary increases for the prisons and not the mental facilities. Then, later, the hospitals tried to catch up.

RELATED STORY: Bloomberg.com - California Psychiatrists Paid $400,000 Shows Bidding War

Caden believes Safi is being blamed for something the state brought on itself. He is confident his client will be exonerated.

By Jonathan Mumm, jmumm@news10.net

News10/KXTV

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