An open letter to the campus community

From Claudia Covello, Executive Director, University Health Services and Brad Buchman, M.D., Medical Director, University Health Services

April 28, 2011

Statement from Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau

Yesterday the Alameda County District Attorney filed charges alleging that a staff physician formerly employed by our University Health Services (UHS) engaged in illegal sexual contact with some of his patients while working at UC Berkeley. This news is shocking and profoundly unsettling for all of us. On behalf of the entire Berkeley campus, we deeply regret any harm that has been caused.
I want to commend UHS’s leadership for the speed with which they have responded to the allegations and cooperated with the police investigation. The physician was removed from the workplace and has now resigned. I also want to assure those affected by this behavior that we are committed to providing them with support services.
We continue to examine how this could have happened, and how we can assure that it will never happen again. In the meantime, I can state with complete confidence that the UHS leadership and care providers remain focused on the needs of their patients, and on providing the highest possible levels of patient care, protection and education.

We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news that a former University Health Services staff physician, Robert Kevess, MD, has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney with engaging in illegal sexual contact with some of his male patients. These allegations, if proven to be true, stand in stark opposition to everything we stand for and believe in as professionals dedicated to providing high-quality care for our patients.

On behalf of our physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, counselors, pharmacists, educators and dedicated staff we want to express our sincere regrets and absolute commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of our clients in the wake of this development.

Contacts:
UHS (510) 642-3738
tangadmin@uhs.berkeley.edu

Berkeley UCPD (510) 642-0472


More information:

Charges
(PDF)
Timeline
UHS Fact Sheet

Immediately upon learning of the allegations from a former patient, UHS management contacted the University of California Police Department, Berkeley, and we have fully cooperated with the ensuing law enforcement investigation.  In coordination with the police, we placed the physician on administrative leave. He subsequently formally resigned from his position.

Even as we continue our comprehensive inquiry into how these incidents could have occurred, our primary focus is, as it has always been, on the needs of our patients and former patients, and on steps we can take to prevent anything remotely similar from ever happening again. We will provide appropriate resources, support and services needed by those who may have been directly or indirectly impacted by the alleged actions of this physician. Concerned patients may also seek confidential guidance and support by calling a special line established by University Health Services at (510) 642-3738 or via email to: tangadmin@uhs.berkeley.edu.   In addition, police investigators are urging former patients who believe they may have had sexual contact with the physician in the past to contact Berkeley UCPD  at (510) 642-0472.

Resources for the Campus Community

A message to the campus community from the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the LGBT Community at Cal; the Staff of the Gender Equity Resource Center; and Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion Gibor Basri
We are saddened to learn of the allegations of sexual misconduct by a physician formerly at University Health Services that has involved members of our Cal community. These charges address the ethical and legal requirements that apply to relationships between physicians and patients (regardless of the patient’s gender). Many of you may know some of those affected, and our thoughts go out to them and all of you.
This investigation has the potential to stir many feelings for the entire LGBT community, among them disappointment, betrayal, frustration and confusion. Members of our campus community who may be experiencing strong emotions – particularly related to perceived potential homophobic backlash – are encouraged to seek out support. We invite you to contact the staff of CARE Services (staff/faculty), Social Services (students), Gender Equity Resource Center, Campus Climate and Compliance, and/or either of the staff or student Ombudspersons.
The University is fully committed to serving the needs of the campus LGBT community through our many educational and advocacy resources – among them the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the LGBT Community at Cal.

In accordance with the medical community’s standards, UHS has well established procedures for patients who wish to submit confidential complaints, and we conduct regular re-credentialing reviews of members of our medical staff.  No formal complaints had previously been submitted regarding the physician, and his most recent re-accreditation review – in July 2010 – identified no issues of concern.

 

Going forward, we will do whatever it takes to help us all recover from these shocking developments and continue UHS’s 105-year history of excellence in patient care and protection.  We are already working with independent experts to examine our existing policies and procedures that are designed to inform patients of their rights, ensure their safety and provide ways for them to confidentially report concerns and complaints.  No effort will be spared as we explore every possible avenue to guarantee the highest possible levels of patient care, protection and education.

Information about the investigation and the charges can be downloaded here (PDF). We understand that there may be a desire for additional, detailed information about the allegations. However, because this matter is now before the criminal justice system and remains under investigation, there are significant restrictions on the scope and nature of information we can currently provide.

Despite the impact of this incident on our team of dedicated health care professionals and staff, we are convinced that, together, we can surmount the challenges before us, continue to provide excellent care for our patients and take what ever steps are necessary to ensure we retain your trust and confidence. Both of us have spent many years in the health care sector, and rarely have we seen a community of care providers so dedicated to meeting the needs and protecting the welfare of its clients. We know that even as our clinicians struggle to overcome their own shock and dismay, their energy and expertise will remain focused on all of you who rely on our services for your health and well-being.

A message to the campus community from the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the LGBT Community at Cal; the Staff of the Gender Equity Resource Center; and Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion Gibor Basri

We are saddened to learn of the allegations of sexual misconduct by a physician formerly at University Health Services that has involved members of our Cal community. These charges address the ethical and legal requirements that apply to relationships between physicians and patients (regardless of the patient’s gender). Many of you may know some of those affected, and our thoughts go out to them and all of you.

This investigation has the potential to stir many feelings for the entire LGBT community, among them disappointment, betrayal, frustration and confusion. Members of our campus community who may be experiencing strong emotions – particularly related to perceived potential homophobic backlash – are encouraged to seek out support. We invite you to contact the staff of CARE Services (staff/faculty), Social Services (students)[uhs.berkeley.edu], Gender Equity Resource Center [geneq.berkeley.edu], Campus Climate and Compliance [ccac.berkeley.edu], and/or either of the staff or student Ombudspersons [staffombuds.berkeley.edu, students.berkeley.edu/ombuds].

The University is fully committed to serving the needs of the campus LGBT community through our many educational and advocacy resources – among them the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the LGBT Community at Cal [caclgbt.berkeley.edu].