On March 14, 2014, a meeting was held at CSLEA Headquarters with representatives from CSLEA and the Department of Consumer Affairs to discuss the July 1, 2014 transfer of the Medical Board of California Enforcement Division to the Division Of Investigation as mandated by Senate Bill 304. CSLEA was represented by Kasey Clark, Chief Counsel, and Legal Counsel Jim Vitko and Erin Eckelman (via Skype from the CSLEA Southern Office) along with MBC Investigators Michel Veverka and Aaron Barnett. The Department of Consumer of Affairs was represented by Michael Gomez - Deputy Director (Chief), Division of Investigation and Enforcement Programs, Jeffrey Sears - Personnel Officer and Marian Jong-Hui- Labor Relations Officer.
Chief Gomez began the meeting by stating the disruption to Medical Board staff would be minimal until Health Quality Investigative Unit (HQIU) is evaluated and it is clear as to what changes may be needed. Gomez assured there will be incremental improvements to HQIU and the Vertical Enforcement Program. The Vertical Enforcement Program was implemented in 2005 under SB 231. The investigators and Deputy Attorneys General (DAG) within the Health Quality Enforcement Section of the Department of Justice (DOJ) are supposed to jointly investigate an enforcement case. The Deputy Attorneys General then litigate the discipline case against doctors.
The biggest, immediate change the Investigators will see is a different reporting structure. The peace officers will report to a peace officer and not Board Members or an Executive Director. The current chain of command will remain in place, but will be subject to change. The Medical Board's Office of Standards and Training are relocating from the MBC headquarters to the DOI headquarters on North Market in Sacramento. All other MBC district offices will remain at their current location for at least two years. This has been approved by the Department of General Services.
Duty statements for HQIU will likely need to be revised and Human Resources will have to review them. MBC currently has four operation manuals which will be moving along with the Investigators. But manual revisions or omissions are subject to change. HQIU will currently investigate the same licensees they do now. There are no plans to merge investigations with DOI and HQIU.
Some Investigators may have to receive new badge numbers. There are approximately 30-35 duplicate badge numbers. The individual with most state seniority will retain their badge number and the other will receive a new one. Investigators will be allowed to purchase their badge as a souvenir if they choose.
There was recognition that the VE program was supposed to be two agencies working as a team, but an objection as to how the work was implemented has created non-collaboration and friction. Chief Gomez promoted collateral communication and evaluating the needs verses the wants of the Investigators and the DAG's. Gomez emphasized that the Vertical Enforcement Manual will need to be revised to reflect this spirit. At the conclusion of the meeting, Gomez stated his intention to resume his visits of the field offices and he will be scheduling dates and times to meet with staff in Northern California.
There will likely be additional meetings between CSLEA and DCA as the transition moves forward. We will continue to provide updates as these events occur.