Gibbons finally gets one right

Gov. Jim Gibbons deserves great kudos for finally waking up to the magnitude of the health crisis caused by the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

Who could fathom 40,000 people put at risk because doctors had ordered the reuse of syringes and medicine vials during scopes at clinics? Where to begin? The sheer number of people who now need blood tests or the outrageous practices by people whose primary mission is “First do no harm”?

The disbelief was still palpable Sunday when Gibbons cleaned house at the State Board of Medical Examiners and also dumped Lisa Jones, the head of the Bureau of Licensure and Certification who came across as helpless during a legislative hearing.

The Review-Journal’s Paul Harasim on Sunday detailed the many connections Dr. Dipak Desai had made in cornering the gastroenterology market in Las Vegas. It was at Desai’s clinics where at least six people contracted hepatitis C as a result of unsafe medical procedures.

Gov. Gibbons’ top health care adviser, Dr. Ikram Khan, for example, performed consulting work for Desai last year. Dr. Javaid Anwar, president of the State Board of Medical Examiners, had done business with Desai.

The fact that Desai still has a license to practice medicine weeks after the scandal first came to light creates the appearance that the state isn’t capable of conducting an independent investigation.

Bravo to Gibbons for taking the questions out of the equation by asking Anwar, board Vice President Dr. Sohail Anjum and board member Dr. Daniel McBride to resign because of their acknowledged conflicts of interest with Desai and his clinic.

Now Gibbons should also find a new medical adviser and once and for all wipe out the old-boy network surrounding Desai.

Khan has said he did not talk to Gibbons at all about the largest public health crisis in the nation.

It’s a good thing FBI and IRS agents are looking into whether Medicare fraud are at the root of this endoscopy mess. There are just too many unanswered questions, too many cozy deals and too little real action thus far to suggest the state can figure this out on its own.

At least Gibbons knew he had to dump the crew that might have been standing in the way.

Housing horrors

The economy keeps heading downward, and now gasoline prices and airline fares are rising even higher.

Who knows whether we’re in a recession. But here in Las Vegas, home of the worst foreclosure ZIP codes in the nation, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the bad news. My own neighborhood is still dotted with for sale signs offering great deals on bank-owned properties.

One family who moved out last year decided to rent their home, and sure enough, the equivalent of three families had to move in to afford the rent. That makes my block look a lot like a parking lot. There are now six vehicles in front of the home and people coming and going at all hours.

It sure beats a vacancy, but it also shows what people must go through nowadays for a small slice of the American dream.

Many residents who pay their rent on time are still getting eviction notices because their landlord isn’t paying the mortgage. Imagine thinking you’re getting a bargain in this economy — a rental that you can afford — only to be booted onto the street.

At least my neighbors are still paying their mortgage.

Now more people are at risk of losing security deposits — the type of money that could actually offer them security — but is only going to revert to landlords who are walking away from their properties.

And for some, what is typically two months’ rent is going to be needed to stay off the streets.

Unfortunate distraction

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels deserve our community’s support as they head to Nebraska for a Thursday NCAA Tournament game against a tough Kent State team.

But UNLV Athletic Director Mike Hamrick’s decision to force out women’s coach Regina Miller during the Mountain West Conference tournament doesn’t exactly engender a chorus of “Kumbaya.”

What better way for UNLV to spend “Selection Sunday,” waiting on their NCAA draw, than to have the women’s basketball coaching job advertised in the newspaper?

It’s classless, not to mention the kind of distraction the men’s team doesn’t need as it prepares for a very difficult first-round foe. If they get past the Golden Flashes, the Rebels will likely face top regional seed Kansas.

If this is a Cinderella story, we know we have an evil stepmother at home.

Erin Neff can be reached at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at eneff@reviewjournal.com.

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