COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

Suffolk, ss. Division of Administrative Law Appeals

Matthew Serafin,

Petitioner

v. Docket No. CR-06-160

State Board of Retirement,

Respondent

Appearance for Petitioner:

Christine G. Narcisse, Esq.

McGuire & McGuire, PC
14 Harvard Street
Worcester, MA 01609

Appearance for Respondent:

Emily J. Robbins, Esq.

State Board of Retirement
One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Administrative Magistrate:

Kenneth J. Forton, Esq.

DECISION

The Petitioner, Matthew Serafin, appealed timely under G.L. c. 32, § 16(4) the February 24, 2006 decision of the Respondent, State Board of Retirement, to classify him in Group 1, rather than Group 2, for retirement purposes. (Exs. 1, 2) I held a hearing on June 10, 2008 at the office of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, 98 North Washington Street, Boston. I admitted seven documents into evidence. (Exs. 1-7) The Petitioner testified on his own behalf. The Respondent called no witnesses. There are two cassette tapes of the hearing.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Based on the evidence presented by the parties, I make the following findings of
fact:

1. Matthew Serafin, d.o.b. 11/19/50, has worked at Worcester State Hospital in a psychiatric ward since 1990. For the first three years, he worked as a staff nurse. (Testimony)

2. Since 1993, he has been classified as an R.N. IV - Administrative Supervisor. (Testimony, Ex. 7)

3. During Mr. Serafin's employment at the Worcester State Hospital, the patient population consisted of persons with mental illness. Some of the patients were being held for forensic evaluation, while others were chronically and more severely mentally ill. (Testimony)

4. While Mr. Serafin was employed at the Hospital, there were 150 patient beds in the facility. (Testimony)

5. Since 1993, Mr. Serafin worked five days per week from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Testimony)

6. On a typical shift, Mr. Serafin reported to the Assistant Director of Nursing. Mr. Serafin supervised fifteen charge nurses who were responsible for the direct care of patients. The charge nurses were assisted in their duties by licensed practical nurses and/or mental health workers. (Testimony)

7. The Official Position Description, Form 30, for the position of R.N. IV lists the following general duties and responsibilities: "Receives and delivers report on client status at change of shift to ensure proper follow-up. . . . In collaboration with the charge nurse, identifies and sets priorities for the management of patient treatment through data collection, observation and close communication with nursing staff and other clinicians." (Ex. 7)

8. Mr. Serafin's official duties included receiving and reviewing ward reports, consulting with charge nurses to identify priorities for the management of each patient, maintaining staffing coverage, supervising nursing staff, ensuring compliance with established standards of care, investigating patient or staff accident/injury reports, serving as a role model for the nursing staff, and providing performance evaluations to all nursing staff. (Testimony, Ex. 7)

9. Mr. Serafin was charged with providing direct and/or indirect nursing care as necessary and as assigned by the Assistant Director of Nursing. Mr. Serafin also was expected to participate in, assess and evaluate all emergency response activities of the nursing staff and then document all such emergency responses. (Testimony, Ex. 7)

10. On a typical day, Mr. Serafin arrived at 3:00 p.m. He spent the first half hour of his shift meeting with the day shift supervisor and discussing patient care strategy with the charge nurses. (Testimony)

11. From about 3:30 to 5:30, he performed his rounds. While Mr. Serafin came in contact with the patients during rounds, his work was focused on making sure that the charge nurses were performing their duties and following the plan of care for each patient. (Testimony)

12. From 5:30 to 6:30 the patients would eat dinner while Mr. Serafin completed some necessary paper work. On the odd occasion, he would have to discuss something with a patient during this time. (Testimony)

13. From 6:30 to 7:30 Mr. Serafin met with his staff to arrange work assignments and set out a game plan for the rest of the evening. (Testimony)

14. For most of the balance of the evening, Mr. Serafin performed administrative duties, including following up on patient and staff injury and emergency reports and finding shift replacements. Mr. Serafin spent about two hours each evening on the telephone performing his duties. (Testimony)

15. He ended each evening by completing a shift report, which typically would take him ten to twenty minutes. (Testimony)

16. On occasion, Mr. Serafin would respond to a fire, medical or psychiatric emergency, which would take approximately fifteen minutes per occurrence. (Testimony)

17. During any given day, Mr. Serafin may have additional contact with patients, when patients made complaints or sought extra attention from him. (Testimony)

18. On occasion, Mr. Serafin would provide break coverage for one of the charge nurses under his supervision. (Testimony)

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

The decision of the State Board of Retirement is affirmed. Matthew Serafin is properly classified in Group 1, rather than Group 2, for retirement purposes.

G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g), provides for a system of classification of employees for retirement purposes. Group 1 includes "[o]fficials and general employees including clerical, administrative and technical workers, laborers, mechanics and all others not otherwise classified." G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). Group 2 includes in pertinent part "employees of the commonwealth or of any county, regardless of official classification . . . whose regular and major duties require them to have the care, custody, instruction or other supervision of persons who are mentally ill or mentally defective . . . ." Id. (emphasis added).

The Petitioner contends that, since his job duties required him to provide direct patient care on a regular basis to mentally ill adults, he meets the statutory requirements outlined in G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g), for classification in Group 2. The Respondent does not dispute that the Petitioner occasionally provided direct patient care to mentally ill adults. The Respondent, however, argues that Mr. Serafin's regular and major duties were administrative and supervisory in nature and that he was only involved in patient care as an adjunct to his primary duties. Classification is "properly based on the sole consideration of [the applicant's] duties at the time of retirement." Maddocks v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Bd., 369 Mass. 488, 494 (1975). The applicant's duties are largely determined by consulting his or her title or job description. See Gaw v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Bd., 4 Mass. App. Ct. 250, 256 (1976).

After careful consideration of all the testimony and documents presented in this case, I conclude that Mr. Serafin's regular and major duties consisted of supervising charge nurses and performing the administrative duties listed in his job description. Mr. Serafin's job description contains primarily supervisory and administrative duties, including receiving and reviewing ward reports, consulting with charge nurses to identify priorities for the management of each patient, maintaining staffing coverage, supervising nursing staff, ensuring compliance with established standards of care, investigating patient or staff accident/injury reports, and providing performance evaluations to all nursing staff. While Mr. Serafin may have come in contact with patients while discharging these duties, it is clear from his job description and his own testimony that he was not responsible for the "care, custody, instruction or other supervision of persons who are mentally ill or mentally defective . . . ." G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). The direct care of the mentally ill patients at Worcester State Hospital was the responsibility of the fifteen charge nurses and numerous licensed practical nurses and mental health workers that were under his supervision.

The Petitioner estimated that he spent between eighty-five and ninety percent of his work day providing direct care to mentally ill patients, but when asked to describe a typical work day he listed largely administrative and supervisory duties and only occasional direct care of patients. Although Mr. Serafin provided direct care to mentally ill patients when circumstances such as staffing shortages or emergencies required him to perform those tasks, direct patient care was ancillary to his administrative and supervisory work. The Petitioner's job description demonstrates that his job was basically an administrative one, and the Petitioner's description of a typical work day confirms that.

He is, therefore, properly classified in Group 1 for retirement purposes. The decision of the Board is affirmed.

SO ORDERED.

DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW APPEALS

Kenneth J. Forton
Administrative Magistrate

DATED: 7/17/08


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