(San Bernardino) – When California Governor Jerry Brown appointed San Bernardino County Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) Medical Director, Dr. Dev GnanaDev to the California Medical Board late last month, more than a few county observers raised their eyebrows. GnanaDev is a controversial figure at the county-run hospital.
Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office raided the hospital in the fall of 2010 amid accusations that Dr. GnanaDev arranged free medical care for two or more members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, despite the fact the supervisors voted to provide themselves with the best medical insurance available. Some medical staff also raised concerns that as medical director, GnanaDev oversaw the award of approximately $21 million in contracts to provide medical staff to the hospital, awarding one or more of those contracts to himself with little oversight.
Under GnanaDev’s rule, the hospital almost lost it Medicaid funding when the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) conducted inspections that documented patient abuse, improper use of patient restraints, and improper sterilization methods. As a public hospital, 50 percent or more of its funding comes from Medicaid and Medicare. Loss of those funds would likely be a deathblow.
Amid all the controversy, ARMC doctors approached the county’s Board of Supervisors, stating their concerns that patient safety was at risk due to the inherent conflict of interest. Then vice-chairman of the Board, Josie Gonzales, chastised the doctors for airing “dirty laundry” in public. Thus far, the Board of Supervisors has done little to resolve the matter. GnanaDev’s practice contributes to the campaign war chests of some supervisors.
If GnanaDev is confirmed by the California Senate, some doctors are concerned about retribution. ARMC managers have frequently threatened medical staff with false reports to the state licensing board if they did not refrain from whistleblowing activities. With GnanaDev on the board, it will make those threats all the more serious.
As medical director and as part of his contract, GnanaDev is required to file conflict of interest forms with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) annually. When the controversy heightened, local bloggers requested to review the forms. At that time, according to county assessor’s records, GnanaDev owned undeveloped real property near the hospital that he did not report. He also did not report his wife’s income from the billing service he owns and he pushes county doctors to utilize.
A complaint was filed against Dr. GnanaDev over the omissions. The FPPC stated it could not investigate because the Board of Supervisors had not codified GnanaDev’s filing requirement. This was brought to the board’s attention. The board “corrected” the matter by designating GnanaDev as a low-level filer who does not have to report real property interests despite having department head level status as medical director.
The California Medical Board is charged with the duty to license and discipline doctors in the state. It is unknown when GnanaDev’s confirmation will be considered.
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