By JACK WEATHERLY
Dr. Kenneth Cleveland has been named executive director of the Mississippi Medical Licensure Board.
The position has been vacant since July 1, when Dr. John Hall left after the board voted to not extend his contract after a year during which his aggressive style was brought to bear on physicians’ sexual behavior with patients.
“We did more disciplinary action in the first 90 days I was here than [Dr. H.] Vann Craig did in 10 years” in that position,” Hall said in an interview after the board voted May 18 not to renew his contract.
In those three months, about a half-dozen doctors surrendered their licenses and another half-dozen licenses were indefinitely suspended.
Dr. Charles Miles, president of the board, said on Monday that Cleveland’s tenure, which begins March 1, “may be a little kinder and gentler.”
Yet, Miles said, the board wants to become more transparent in his functions.
A major part of that will be an updated website that makes it easier for the public to see details of any disciplinary action taken by the board on physicians and others under its authority.
Consumer Reports in April 2016 ranked it 65th among all such sites.
Months later, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said in a series of articles based on a yearlong investigative series that Mississippi ranked 51st among states and the District of Columbia in patient protection from abusive physicians.
Miles said he hopes the revamped website will be functioning by May, when the licensure period starts, ending July 1.
Dr. Claude Brunson, vice president of the board, said in an interview that information on the website has always been available, but that if information beyond a generic explanation was desired a $25 fee was charged to cover the agency’s research.
The technology of the revamped website will allow inquiries to go directly to the details of each case and obviate any need for assistance, Brunson said.
Miles said in a prepared statement that “in just this past year, we have been through an extensive evaluation process to assess and improve how we function.”
“We have been working on regulations to give better guidance to physicians on opioid prescribing.” Abuse of opioid pain relievers, which can be highly addictive, has become a national emergency.
“I am confident that Dr. Cleveland will build on the progress the board has made and lead this agency to a level that other boards across the nation will want to emulate,” Miles said in the statement.
Brunson said the board received 13 applications for the director’s position.
Cleveland completed his residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as chief surgical resident. He has since practiced medicine in the state as a surgeon and administrator.
Most recently, Cleveland was owner, chief executive and primary physician of Remedy True Health, which describes itself as “a medical spa specializing in weight loss, aesthetics and anti-aging services.”
It offers a procedure called “thermage,” noninvasive skin tightening.
He said in a prepared statement that he is “committed to utilizing this talented staff and board to license efficiently and regulate fairly those professionals under our charge.”
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