U professor keeps job after complaints, discipline

Norman Eid was given a cease practice order in May 2009.

Tara Bannow

In the middle of his prison sentence for rape and kidnapping at the Stillwater Correctional Facility, an inmate with the initials A.S. complained about a toothache. In a fall 2004 letter to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, he described the feeling of walking into the prisonâÄôs dental clinic and seeing Norman Eid, a dentist he knew through personal experience and his reputation among inmates. âÄúRight away fear rushes my heart and I am scared to death,âÄù A.S., whose initials are being used for privacy, wrote in the letter. A.S. wrote he had approached Eid one year earlier with a âÄúrottenâÄù tooth so painful it caused his gums to swell, but the dentist refused to see him. âÄúI had only asked him a question as to how to save the tooth,âÄù he wrote, âÄúand that was all it took to see his rage and disrespect.âÄù Eid treated prisoners at Stillwater Correctional Facility and the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison for male felons, between 2000 and 2009. Despite a history marked by problems with inmates and coworkers, Eid is currently in his 22nd year of employment at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. As an adjunct associate professor in the radiology division, Eid oversees studentsâÄô evaluation of X-rays for four hours one day a week. For nearly four months, the Minnesota Board of Dentistry forbade Eid to practice following multiple findings that he had failed to give pain medication before procedures, limited inmatesâÄô access to dental care, behaved disrespectfully toward coworkers and failed to maintain a sanitary clinic. In February, the board ordered Eid to work under a conditional license. If he completes a list of mandatory coursework and other conditions, Eid, who declined to comment for this story, could have his license fully reinstated this year. A troubled history Complaints against EidâÄôs performance culminated in an investigation by the state Office of the Attorney General in April 2008 and another in August of that year. While working at the prisons, Eid yelled at patients, used inappropriate names for patients, made disparaging comments about coworkers, failed to properly administer and prescribe anesthesia and pain medication and âÄúfailed to remove his contaminated gloves before reaching into drawers to retrieve instruments or materials,âÄù according to board records. Following the investigation, the board sent Eid to Resurrection Health Care in Illinois for an evaluation. Out of the 16,000 people the board oversees, less than 10 are sent to Resurrection per year, Executive Director Marshall Shragg said. After receiving ResurrectionâÄôs evaluation, which recommended that Eid âÄúcease practicing dentistry and enroll in a specialty treatment program for disruptive behavior,âÄù the board issued a âÄúcease and desistâÄù on his dental license May 4, 2009, forbidding him to practice. EidâÄôs was one of eight cease practice orders given by the board between April 2000 and April 2010, according to board records. ResurrectionâÄôs report also classified Eid as having met the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder as well as some aspects of antisocial personality disorder. Eid requested an indefinite leave of absence from the University on April 28, 2009, six days before the cease practice order was placed on his license. He was officially terminated by the School of Dentistry on May 9, 2009, one day after the last day of instruction that semester. In August 2009, the board agreed to lift the cease practice order, with the caveat that it was still investigating EidâÄôs case. The University rehired Eid on Jan. 7, 2010, four days before the spring semester began and more than one month before the board signed an agreement finalizing the terms of his conditional license. âÄúIt would have been known to an employer that followed standard hiring protocols that this is an individual whose case is being investigated by the court,âÄù Shragg said. The University decided to rehire Eid given âÄúall the energy and effortâÄù it had invested in him, said Patrick Lloyd, dean of the School of Dentistry. âÄúWe didnâÄôt feel it would be an inappropriate rehire,âÄù Lloyd said. âÄú[Eid] was teaching with us for 20 years without incidents,âÄù he said. âÄúAs a consequence, you end up acquiring a fair amount of teaching aptitude. Otherwise, youâÄôre not here.âÄù Eid was in the running for a position in a new dental clinic the school will open in May as part of a partnership with University of Minnesota Physicians. Lloyd said the administration removed him from consideration about three weeks ago when it realized the position wouldnâÄôt conform to the guidelines of his conditional license. âÄúThere was no offer given to Dr. Eid,âÄù he said. âÄòHis role is very limited hereâÄô Last summer, Eid spent about two months at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Miss., following ResurrectionâÄôs recommendations. His July discharge report concluded he had âÄúoccupational problems; and narcissistic personality disorder with obsessive-compulsive and personality features.âÄù Most of the complaints about Eid concern his interpersonal relationships, and no such issues have been reported at the University, Mansur Ahmad, head of the radiology division, said. Furthermore, the accusations about his performance as a dentist donâÄôt relate to radiology, Ahmad added. âÄúHis role is very limited here, teaching students one-to-one,âÄù Ahmad said. âÄúNone of these were an issue for our situation.âÄù Nelson Rhodus, head of the division of oral medicine, said the administration investigated EidâÄôs performance âÄî questioning students and faculty âÄî before he was rehired. Rhodus said they found no problems. âÄúWeâÄôve never had one single concern or complaint,âÄù he said. âÄúIf someone accused him of something, we took it seriously.âÄù Although he only spent about a half-hour in the radiology lab examining X-rays with Eid, third-year dental student Andy Bohnsack said it was a valuable experience. âÄúI wouldnâÄôt have any reason to believe that he would exhibit any of that behavior,âÄù he said. âÄúHe came off as a nice guy, willing to take some extra time to teach me.âÄù Jane Schwartz, a dental hygienist who worked alongside Eid at Stillwater for about three years, said sheâÄôs disappointed that the University would let him work with students, who are probably unaware of his past. âÄúIn my opinion, someone who defers treatment âĦ and not help people, I donâÄôt think thatâÄôs a good role model,âÄù she said. Questionable dentistry On Dec. 4, 2006, Roseanne Forsblade, a dental assistant at Stillwater, did something sheâÄôd been doing for more than 10 years: She assisted the dentist with a tooth extraction. But EidâÄôs extraction was unlike any sheâÄôd seen. âÄúThe patient wasnâÄôt numb,âÄù she said. âÄúHe was screaming in pain the entire time.âÄù After the tooth, an upper molar, was removed, bone was uncovered on the neighboring wisdom tooth, according to a Board of Dentistry account of the incident. âÄúA great deal of his jaw came out along with part of the tooth,âÄù Forsblade said. Following the procedure, Eid prescribed 30 tablets of 600 mg ibuprofen. The next day, the patient saw a doctor at the prison who prescribed Vicodin and Augmentin for pain, according to the report. During the three years she worked at the clinic, Forsblade said Eid would insult patients and coworkers and would often try to get his coworkers in trouble. In May 2008, the Department of Corrections reduced EidâÄôs vacation time after charging him with making false claims against a dental assistant and âÄújeopardizing her license by making up false allegations and incident reports regarding her performance,âÄù according to a DOC report. In a letter to Eid, Nanette Larson, the DOC director of health services, wrote, âÄúYour behavior cannot continue to cause tension, conflict and discord in the unit. Your behavior must significantly improve.âÄù Forsblade submitted two harassment complaints against Eid, both of which were sustained by the DOC in September 2007 and June 2008, according to letters obtained by The Minnesota Daily. Forsblade said she felt unsafe when Eid would yell at patients during treatment and threaten to stop halfway through. âÄúI was always worried he was going to upset the wrong guy in the chair and I could wind up getting attacked,âÄù she said. Forsblade claimed Eid never used topical anesthesia before administering an anesthesia injection and consistently refused to provide preventative care to inmates. He performed primarily extractions and temporary fillings, she said. âÄúIâÄôve seen the X-rays where itâÄôs like the abscess just grew after months and months of delay and neglect,âÄù she said. Following months of anxiety attacks, stress-related sickness and an inability to sleep or digest food, ForsbladeâÄôs job at the DOC came to an end in July 2009. At that time, the DOC reduced its dental staff, including Forsblade and Schwartz, in response to significant budget reductions. Eid, set to be laid off as well, retired at the same date. Janet Graves, who worked alongside Eid as a dental hygienist at the Oak Park Heights facility beginning in summer 2006, said Eid would often remove teeth before fully numbing his patients. âÄúThe man was in so much pain he was ready to climb up on the ceiling,âÄù Graves said recounting one situation with a level-five offender. âÄúHe was screaming.âÄù Four out of five harassment complaints filed by EidâÄôs coworkers resulted in discipline, according to the DOC. The department would not reveal whether the fifth claim was substantiated. The disciplinary actions against Eid âÄî two written reprimands, an oral reprimand and a one-day reduction in vacation âÄî were for losing a dental instrument, harassment and inappropriate conduct. In a written reprimand to Eid by the DOC dated Jan. 9, 2008, Oak Park Heights Health Service Administrator Kathy Reid wrote, âÄúYou contribute to the conflict between you and your dental colleague in your interpersonal actions and your disrespectful attitude toward the offenders and your colleague âĦ You have had numerous supervisory conferences with Human Resources, Central Office Health Services staff and me regarding your poor interpersonal skills and your inability to avoid conflict with your colleagues.âÄù Graves said she quit in March 2008 because she couldnâÄôt work with Eid any longer. In addition to numerous incident reports alleging patient abuse, Graves filed a lawsuit against the DOC in April 2008 because she felt working with Eid was unsafe and intolerable. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. When Schwartz first stepped into the Stillwater Correctional Facility in fall 2006 during her job interview, she could tell something was wrong. Even in the tiny dental clinic, Eid, her future co-worker, wouldnâÄôt acknowledge her presence. âÄúIt made me uncomfortable,âÄù Schwartz, a dental hygienist, said. When she was offered the job, Schwartz said she asked about Eid but was assured there wouldnâÄôt be any problems. When Schwartz began noticing EidâÄôs strange behavior around inmates, such as refusing to see them and calling them âÄúhorseâÄôs asses,âÄù she began reporting it to her supervisor. In separate accounts, three of EidâÄôs former coworkers said that when they complained about the dentistâÄôs behavior, they were told to deal with it or find another job. EidâÄôs former coworkers emphasized the way he treated patients as the most disturbing behavior. âÄúIt was stunning to see grown men crying in the dental chair and telling him they could still feel it,âÄù Schwartz said. âÄúHe would say, âÄòThereâÄôs no way you can feel that. WeâÄôre almost done.âÄô âÄù Continued supervision As part of EidâÄôs conditional license, he must work in a board-approved âÄúgroup practice settingâÄù that will provide accountability for his work, including workplace monitoring, random chart reviews, limited administrative duties and patient satisfaction surveys. Ahmad, EidâÄôs direct supervisor, said the chart reviews and patient surveys are not applicable to his current position because he doesnâÄôt see patients. Although Shragg declined to comment on whether EidâÄôs work setting meets the conditions of his license, he said the board works with the licensee and the employer to ensure compliance. If a licensee is not compliant, âÄúthatâÄôs something they will be held accountable for,âÄù Shragg said. By fall of this year, Eid will have to take a comprehensive course on local anesthesia, including the use of topical medication. By February 2011, heâÄôll have to complete a course on infection control designed by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. In an e-mail last month in response to SchwartzâÄôs concern over the rehiring of Eid at the University, Rhodus wrote, âÄúWe are now in consultation to terminate Dr. Eid, immediately. This should not have happened, but I believe we can soon rectify it.âÄù In an interview last week, Rhodus said he sent the e-mail before he had looked into the situation further. He said he now feels comfortable with EidâÄôs position working with students. âÄúIt looked like from our perspective, legally, the board, as our legal governing body, they gave him clearance to [work],âÄù he said, âÄúso we saw no reason not to let him do it.âÄù When asked his opinion on the boardâÄôs treatment of EidâÄôs case, Shragg, the boardâÄôs executive director, said, âÄúMy personal thoughts donâÄôt really matter on this, although I wish they did.âÄù Lloyd said that in the future he would consider hiring Eid as a University dentist, provided the conditions be removed from his license and that there be a long incident-free period. âÄúI would suspect that in time, if thatâÄôs an area of practice he would like to move toward, and if we had a need,âÄù he said, âÄúI think he would be an appropriate person to be considered.âÄù