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10% at King had criminal records

An audit also finds that hospital nurses failed exams on basic skills -- repeatedly.

September 09, 2008|Garrett Therolf | Times Staff Writer

Throughout much of the last year, the audit said, many of the failures to act upon criminal histories can be attributed to poor staffing of the Department of Health Services' performance management bureau. Only one overburdened staff person -- who had other duties as well -- was responsible for investigating all department employees with criminal records, including obtaining court documents, employees' statements and other evidence.

Schunhoff acknowledged that many criminal records at hospital, clinics and other facilities throughout the department may not have undergone timely review. He also acknowledged that human resources managers told him over the last year that the bureau was understaffed. He said he directed them to fill the positions, but vacancies remain today. In addition to the competency problems, the auditor said that 271 employees were transferred without up-to-date evaluations reviewing their overall performance.

The county's chief executive office determined that the lack of a current evaluation should not preclude the transfer of an employee, the report said. The office said it made the decision to avoid delaying the transfers, but efforts were made to ensure that evaluations were performed soon after the moves.

Still, the auditor-controller's report left significant questions unanswered in the public record.

It does not include a single name in its account of the failures and, with the exception of the custodian, it provides no description of the type or severity of the criminal histories. It also fails to specify the staffers' weaknesses in providing patient care.

Meanwhile, the county's chief executive office and Department of Health Services have refused to disclose records to The Times that would reveal a full account of the crimes committed by King staffers.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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