- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

D.C. Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson accepted the resignation of the doctor responsible for training medics and assuring the quality of patient care, but he now plans to rehire the man as a consultant even though he is not licensed to practice medicine in the District.

Dr. Clifford H. Turen, medical director for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, submitted his resignation effective March 1 for reasons that could not be determined yesterday.

Chief Thompson would not confirm the resignation when asked by The Washington Times last Friday, as news of Dr. Turen’s departure became widely known in the department. He insisted that Dr. Turen was “on leave” and would not address whether the doctor’s leave was voluntary or enforced.

Yesterday, the chief confirmed Dr. Turen’s resignation through a spokesman.

“The department is in receipt of a resignation letter from Dr. Turen, which Chief Thompson has accepted,” said Alan Etter, a fire department spokesman. “This is not anyone being forced out. This is an effort to reconfigure [Dr. Turen’s] role. We want him still involved.”

Mr. Etter said the department will search for a new medical director, even though officials plan to rehire Dr. Turen as a consultant. Dr. Amit Wadhwa, who is the assistant medical director, will serve as acting medical director.

The medical director is responsible for the quality of medical care, medical protocols and oversight, and for training for all EMS providers in the field. The job pays more than $100,000 a year, but it is largely considered a part-time advisory role.

Dr. Turen, who lives in Howard County, split his time between the District and his job as chief of the Division of Orthopedic Traumatology at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center. He did not return telephone messages left at his university office Friday and yesterday.

Dr. Turen’s departure leaves the medical director position vacant for the second time in seven months. Dr. Fernando Daniels III was fired in August after confidential records detailing mistakes in patient care were leaked to The Times.

The medical director post has become increasingly critical in the District in recent years since firefighters trained as emergency medical technicians have been manning more city ambulances because of staffing shortages in the EMS division. Chief Thompson is trying to implement a long-delayed plan to merge the uniformed fire service and the civilian EMS service by cross-training firefighters as medics and vice versa.

Some have questioned the type of expertise Dr. Turen brings to the District.

During his seven-month tenure in the District, Dr. Turen did not obtain the proper reciprocity paperwork that would allow him to practice medicine in the District.

The paramedics’ union opposed Dr. Turen’s appointment because his specialty is not emergency medicine and he is not eligible to be certified by the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Turen has 20 years of experience in orthopedic surgery and more than 15 years’ experience in orthopedic traumatology.

Mr. Etter said Chief Thompson is “going through the process” of crafting a consultant’s contract that would keep Dr. Turen from leaving the department. He said the chief does not plan to open the contract to competitive bids.

“If the fire chief decides he needs a person because of his particular expertise, the contract does not have to be let,” Mr. Etter said.

Janis Bolt, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement, said such contracts, which are called “sole-source contracts,” are still open to scrutiny.

“The [agency heads] have to write a justification for a sole-source contract,” she said, adding that the justification must be approved by contracting officials.

Mr. Etter could not say yesterday what Dr. Turen’s duties as a consultant would be and how much he will be paid.

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