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California DOC Chief Health Care Official Ousted

The top California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) health-care official, a gubernatorial appointee, was forced to resign by the federal court appointed healthcare Receiver, Robert Sillen.

Dr. Peter Farber-Szekrenyi, who was hired in November 2005 to head CDCR?s Division of Health Care Services, was castigated for his awarding a contract to Florida firm Medical Development International (MDI) without the knowledge of Sillen. Rumors were that Farber-Szekrenyi had a financial interest in MDI, creating a conflict of interest. Another high-level appointed CDCR healthcare official, Darc Keller, was discovered during an Inspector General investigation to have had a $10,000 - $100,000 investment in a subsidiary of MDI. MDI, and its subsidiary, provide outpatient physician billing and scheduling services in a pilot project at two southern California prisons. However, Keller stated that he had divested himself of this stock before Farber-Szekrenyi signed the MDI contract. Nonetheless, Keller resigned February 23, 2007.

On February 16, when Sillen learned of the stealth contract, he took away Farber-Szekrenyi?s healthcare responsibilities and cut his pay 37% to $211,140. By March 5, the storm caught up with Farber-Szekrenyi, whom Governor Schwarzenegger asked to immediately resign. ?Nobody understands why it happened,? Farber-Szekrenyi said. ?But that?s the way it goes with gubernatorial appointees.? Sillen retorted, ?I?m not going to have a gubernatorial appointee have anything to do with medical.? Sillen added that MDI was not licensed to provide medical services in California. In a later interview, Keller averred that the MDI pilot projects at the California Correctional Institution and the state prison at Lancaster were a ?phenomenal success,? having reduced the four-year backlog of specialist referrals from 500 to zero in months, at a great cost reduction to the state. Keller opined that Sillen was angry because the MDI contract wasn?t his idea, adding a snide comment that ?[Sillen] took a whole lot longer to get the same degree of traction with San Quentin [State Prison],? Sillen?s ongoing pilot model.

This will probably not be the last ax that Sillen swings on his path to executing his federal court mandate to bring CDCR healthcare up to Eighth Amendment standards.

Source: Sacramento Bee.

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