Dr. Caitlin Pedati. (file photo)

The state medical director whose public profile has been elevated during the pandemic has gotten a big pay boost.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati’s boss is Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia, who is now the interim director of the Public Health Department, too. Garcia told Radio Iowa she raised the medical director’s salary by nearly 45% for a variety of reasons, including new responsibilities for Dr. Pedati in the Department of Human Services.

“This decision was really focused around retention,” Garcia said late this afternoon, “but also really focused around the job we’ve asked her to do in those dual roles.”

Pedati has been the state epidemiologist as well as the state medical director since late 2018. Pedati’s new salary of $265,044 is about $24,000 higher than that of Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, her predecessor who retired nearly two years ago after 24 years in the job. Garcia said she’s “quite comfortable” with Pedati’s current salary compared to what other physicians in state government are making.

“I did poll a variety of other salaries for positions both internal to the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health as well as the Department of Corrections,” Garcia said during an interview with Radio Iowa, “and this salary adjustment is actually below what those other salaries are in comparison.”

The Bleeding Heartland blog first reported Pedati’s salary adjustment, as well as $55,000 in overtime pay to Pedati for work this spring. Garcia said Pedati is not only being asked to be the state’s top clinician, she’s had to do her work “in the spotlight and under a microscope” during the pandemic.

“She’s worked at the CDC,” Garcia said. “She’s worked in another state and she is paramount to our ability to sustain this response over the course of the next year.”

Pedati worked in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services before taking the job in Iowa’s Department of Public Health.