Where are they now? Caitlin Pedati edition

Iowa’s former State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati began working last week as Virginia Beach Health District Director, the city of Virginia Beach announced on December 10.

Jason Clayworth reported on December 14, “Pedati’s new gig is a recently created position that pays $190,000 a year, according to records obtained by Axios Monday.” He noted that was substantially less than Pedati’s annual salary in Iowa. The state employee salary book lists Pedati’s annual gross pay at $229,545.41 for fiscal year 2020 and $282,131.62 for the 2021 fiscal year.

Governor Kim Reynolds’ disaster emergency proclamations allowed state employees who normally would not be eligible for overtime pay to receive it for work related to the COVID-19 response. Bleeding Heartland reported last year that Pedati received more than $55,000 in overtime pay from March through early July 2020. Documents I received through a subsequent public records request showed that Pedati collected a total of $67,653.29 in overtime pay during the first six months of the pandemic.

Pedati grew up in the Virginia suburbs and attended college and medical school in the Washington, DC area. So it’s not surprising she would want to return to her home state—even for a lower salary—after four and a half years in the Midwest.

Time sheets I received earlier this year showed Pedati did not claim any overtime hours after August 20, 2020. That was about two weeks after Bleeding Heartland broke the news about her 45 percent raise and generous overtime pay. (I later learned that Pedati’s large salary increase violated state policy in several ways.)

Iowa Department of Public Health spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand did not explain why Pedati stopped filing for overtime. She confirmed the medical director continued to put in more than 40 hours a week on various aspects of the agency’s work. Records I obtained indicated that some other senior public health officials* kept receiving overtime pay throughout 2020 and in early 2021.

Although Iowa’s COVID-19 trends worsened this fall, with new cases and hospitalizations reaching levels not seen since December 2020, the Iowa Department of Public Health has not rushed to hire a new state medical director. The agency announced Pedati’s impending departure in September. Her last day at work was October 22, according to Ekstrand. The job listing for the state medical director closed on December 3. Estrand told me on December 7, “We are eager to fill the position and will be conducting interviews over the next several weeks.”

*Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia did not collect overtime pay at any time during the pandemic. However, Reynolds approved $50,000 bonuses for Garcia in each of the last two years. Originally hired in 2019 to lead the Iowa Department of Human Services, Garcia has also been the public health director since the summer of 2020.

About the Author(s)

Laura Belin