By JACK WEATHERLY
Soon Dr. Claude Brunson will switch from being president of the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure, which, as much as anything rides herd on physicians, to full-time director of the Mississippi Medical Association, which serves an advocacy role for doctors.
Association Board Chairwoman Dr. Jennifer Bryan said in an association release that “all of the state’s physicians know, today, they have one of their own at the helm. He knows medicine and he knows Mississippi.”
He has been a member of the licensure board.and his term ends in 2022.
Starting April 1, he will be executive director of the association that claims 5,000 physicians as members and will step down from licensure board at that time.
Previously, he was the first African-American to be president of the physicians’ association.
Brunson, an anesthesiologist, is “one of the most active voices in Mississippi in medical and health policy,” the release from the association states.
Efforts to reach Brunson for this article were unsuccessful. Since 2010, Brunson has been senior adviser to the vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and leads the external affairs division.
He served UMMC as director of the office of government affairs from 2015 till 2018.
The licensure board and physicians association have been in conflict in recent year over their roles.
Dr. John Hall, former executive director of the licensure board, which declined to renew Hall’s contract in 2017 after less than a year, took an aggressive approach to the behavior of physicians – specifically over whether there were any sexual relations between doctor and patient.
He pushed for a state law to make such a relationship punishable as a felony.
The board did not endorse the effort, which died in committee.
Hall said in an email to The Clarion-Ledger after he left that post that “the board has a deep, irremediable conflict of interest that arise[s] directly from its structure. By statute, the board members are nominated by the [Mississippi Medical Association] and appointed by the governor.”
“This leads to the disciplinary body being controlled by the same ‘trade guild’ it’s supposed to regulate. . . . This is fundamentally a legislative problem.”
Dr. Kenneth E. Cleveland was named by the board as executive director about a year ago.
He took the position despite being sued 12 times in Hinds County Circuit Court in a 10-year period. Settlements were reached in some and others were dismissed outright.
Dr. Charles Miles, then-president of the board said that Cleveland was never the subject of a complaint filed with the board, and thus board never looked into the matter in that context.
Some of the other 12 candidates also were targets of lawsuits as well, Miles said. “That’s part of the price you pay for practicing medicine in this litigious society,” he said.
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