Sunday, March 29, 2009 | 2 a.m.
When he started working for Dr. Dhiresh Joshi in February 2006, Dr. Fadi El Salibi was a “J-1 doctor,” a participant in a government program to bring foreign physicians to medically needy communities.
A lengthy Sun investigation in 2007 showed that many employers in Nevada were abusing the J-1 program by hiring doctors under the pretense of employing them in clinics in underserved areas, and instead assigning them to hospitals, where they could bring in more money for the boss.
El Salibi claims that Joshi forced him to work 100 hours a week and tried to pressure him to see up to 70 patients a day at multiple hospitals until his J-1 term ended in October 2007. He said he worked himself to exhaustion just seeing 40 to 50 patients a day, working every day of the week and being on call on the phone every night.
Other infectious disease specialists say it’s virtually impossible to see more than about 30 patients a day.
J-1 doctors are required by federal law to work at least 40 hours a week in a clinic in a medically underserved area. Elizabeth Neubauer, Joshi’s former billing manager, said Joshi rented space in the clinic of another doctor and the staff there kept a bogus schedule for El Salibi, complete with false patient names, in case state inspectors came calling.
El Salibi said he put in an appearance two mornings a week at the clinic where he was supposed to work. Meanwhile, Joshi assigned him to hospitals throughout Las Vegas. He said he was afraid state health officials would find out he was violating the terms of his agreement with the government, but they never came to the clinic.
Joshi said he never broke any of the rules that guided the J-1 program and said that El Salibi was always free to find other employment.
El Salibi, who now works on his own, said he can speak freely about his J-1 experience now because his immigration status is secure.