Two emergency medicine residents at beleaguered Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center are facing criminal charges -- one for drunk driving, the other for stealing a hand from a cadaver in New Jersey and giving it to an exotic dancer.
A third ER resident began treating patients at the public hospital this summer before he received his medical degree, schedules and interviews show.
The latest revelations come three months after the emergency medicine residency program suspended its director amid an inquiry into his conduct.
A confidential survey of ER residents earlier this year turned up serious concerns about working conditions in the emergency room. Residents complained that the teaching was poor, the hours were excessive and senior physicians in charge of supervising their work were frequently absent, according to two residents who had been briefed on the results.
King/Drew's entire future is in flux after federal regulators notified the hospital late last month that it had failed a make-or-break inspection and would lose $200 million annually in federal funds by the end of the year. Officials are developing plans to radically restructure King/Drew in hopes of receiving federal funds in the future.
Reform plans could include ending the hospital's affiliation with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, which runs the doctor training programs at the hospital, including the ER program. Some, if not all, training programs may be forced to close.
Los Angeles County health officials said they cannot comment on personnel matters other than to confirm that the three ER residents are current employees.
"Each case is investigated with appropriate action taken as necessary," county health department spokesman Michael Wilson said in a statement.
Drew University spokesman Michael Downer referred questions to the county, which has a contract with the university to oversee the physician training programs.
The two residents facing criminal charges are second-year ER resident Ahmed Rashed and third-year Cleveland Enmon, one of the chief residents.
Rashed, 26, turned himself in to New Jersey authorities Sept. 18 after being charged with second-degree theft for allegedly stealing the left hand of a cadaver around June 2002 while he was a medical student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in state prison. He is free on $1,000 bail.
Judson Hamlin, an assistant Middlesex County prosecutor, said police discovered the hand in a glass jar when they went to the home of the exotic dancer as part of a separate investigation. Rashed and the dancer, Linda Kay, were reportedly acquaintances, the prosecutor said.
Authorities believe that the hand belonged to a cadaver that was donated to Rashed's medical school for scientific use. Rashed was a first-year medical student at the time of the alleged crime, Hamlin said. He graduated from there in 2005.
Kay has been charged with wrongful disposition of human remains, a lesser felony.
Rashed has worked at King/Drew since last year, and the hospital would have had no way of knowing about the accusations against him when he was hired. King/Drew, however, has allowed him to continue treating patients since the charges were filed last month.
If Rashed is found guilty, he may have difficulty obtaining a medical license in California.
Rashed's New Jersey lawyer, Kalman Geist, said, "I am firmly convinced that my client will be exonerated at trial, and we're anxious for that to happen in the event that an indictment is returned."
Enmon, 29, was arrested about 11 p.m. July 1 and charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol, said Hermosa Beach Police Sgt. Paul Wolcott. Enmon's trial is set for this week, and he has been representing himself, Wolcott said.
Separately, King/Drew allowed Thomas Jacques to begin his residency in July even though he did not have his medical degree at the time.
Jacques had completed his coursework at the University of Wisconsin Medical School but did not receive his diploma until Aug. 27, school spokeswoman Dian Land said.
County personnel rules explicitly require that all first-year residents have a degree of doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy from an approved school.
Health department spokesman Wilson, relaying information from the hospital's human resources unit, said Jacques became a county employee Aug. 27.
But King/Drew ER schedules obtained by The Times show that Jacques began treating patients before then. The health department declined to explain the discrepancy.
Neither Rashed, Enmon nor Jacques could be reached for comment.