CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) – The St. Louis County Health Director is facing questions about how she can run her department and hold down a second job as an emergency room doctor in a hospital two hours away.
Dr. Dolores Gunn, who makes $152,000 as county health director, also works part time at the Union County Hospital in Anna, Illinois. Gunn says the arrangement has been going on for years with the blessing of her boss, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and is in compliance with the county charter.
Just how many hours a week she works there is unclear.
“On average it can be one day a week,” Gunn said, “other times I’m not down there for two or three weeks at a time.”
At the hospital in Anna, Emergency Room Director Pam Akin told KMOX by phone that Dr. Gunn works there “once or twice a week.”
Gunn stresses her job at St. Louis County is her top priority.
“I’m not working during my work week, if I spend my off days and my personal time down there,” Gunn said, “And I just want to make sure you’re very clear on that. It’s my off time and my personal days, but I have to do forty-plus hours a week in St. Louis County.”
When asked about reports that she is often at the hospital in Anna on Thursdays, Gunn explained that she works there on Thursdays only when she has already worked extra hours for St. Louis County in the same pay period and has a “personal day” coming.
Gunn was in the news earlier this fall when her number two man at the health department, Ed Mueth, took his own life amid suspicions that he was diverting millions of dollars in department contracts to a phantom company he owned over a five year period.
Gunn was asked whether her time away at a second job may have prevented her from catching the scheme sooner.
“I’d say that’s very inappropriate and that’s very unfair,” Gunn said. “You always want to think your checks and balances you have, whether you’re physically sitting at a desk or not, that you can catch it all. But obviously if someone challenges you and you don’t catch it all, the first thing you do is, I need to make sure I improve my checks and balances.”
Gunn says she doesn’t know how much money she earns annually from her part-time job in Anna, but stresses it’s something she does to help serve a region that is low on doctors. Anna, Illinois is across the Mississippi River from Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Gunn says she has been active in providing medical help for the poor since she graduated from medical school and joined the National Health Service Corps and U.S. National Public Health Service.
“We’re always dedicated to service for the uninsured or under-insured, where ever we’re needed,” Gunn said.