James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/11/2010 06:39:51 PM PDT
Two doctors from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the hospital’s medical director has financial conflicts of interests that have kept him from punishing bad doctors.
Dr. John Steinmann, an orthopedic spine surgeon at the county hospital, said medical director Dr. Dev GnanaDev wields too much power over awarding and relinquishing contracts and uses that power to reward himself and others while patient care suffers.
“His ability to control physicians’ contracts allows him to suppress appropriate action regarding physicians with whom he has a financial interest,” Steinmann said. “The power afforded to the medical director at ARMC is simply not appropriate, nor are his alarming number of financial conflicts of interest.”
GnanaDev, who is both the hospital’s medical director and a hospital contractor, said he does not have a conflict of interest.
“All these allegations are false,” he said. “Contracts are dealt by the hospital CEO and the medical director. … If the medical director did everything himself or herself, that would be an issue.”
Gnanavev, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting, said the county has allowed the hospital’s medical director to also be a hospital contractor for the past three decades.
“It’s not me,” he said. “That’s the ARMC policy for 30 years. I’m only here nine and a half years.”
Hospital Director Patrick Petre, who also attended Tuesday’s meeting, described Steinmann’s comments as “personality issues” and told the board that outside reviews hold that the hospital provides quality care.
Last year, Steinmann sent a letter to GnanaDev and other officials, alleging incompetence in the hospital’s neurosurgery department. Another doctor, anesthesiologist Keyvan Safdari, said Tuesday that he, too, believes neurosurgery patients have received substandard care.
Steinmann on Tuesday alleged that GnanaDev has awarded contracts to himself and others while not “providing commensurate clinical services.” He said GnanaDev and a section chairman in the neurosurgery department have “six- or seven-figure contracts” but handle very few cases.
Steinmann said that hurts the hospital because resources aren’t going where they should.
“The county should … ensure that the contract money that is awarded to departments at ARMC is being equitably divided in such a fashion to ensure the retention and recruitment of the very best professionals,” he said.
GnanaDev said Steinmann works at ARMC only part time and. GnanaDev said he is “not sure how much (Steinmann) really knows the reality of what goes on.”
Petre said Tuesday the hospital will make changes to the medical director’s contract.
“There’s a lot of authority and power vested in the medical director,” Petre said. “It deserved some review.”
He told the board that the revised contract will give more peer review authority to the medical staff and give more contracting authority to the hospital’s chief executive.
Along with being the hospital’s medical director, GnanaDev himself is a contractor at the hospital – one of the chief concerns Steinmann raised. But Petre gave no indication that would change.
“That’s the way it’s always been at Arrowhead,” he said of GnanaDev acting as a hospital official and a contractor. “This isn’t something we’ve just done in the last few years.”
He said he could not be more specific about the changes to Gnanadev’s contract.
“I have not presented this to the board yet,” Petre said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I’m not going to go into detail.”
\Frank Comunale, who served as the county hospital’s medical director from 1979 to 1997, said the changes Petre mentioned are a sham.
“That’s a lot of bull,” he said. Contracts were “always supposed to be the CEO’s final say.”
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