I-Team: How many hours does the head of the health district work?

LAS VEGAS - Should the public expect to get a full 40-hour week out of an employee who is paid $325,000 a year in salary and benefits?

That's the compensation paid each year to Dr. Joseph Iser, the chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District.

But district employees say Dr. Iser is a ghost, rarely in his office, and unavailable to speak to his staff.
With so many pressing issues at the health district, the I-Team decided to see whether the boss is showing up for work.

Employees at the Southern Nevada Health District say Chief Health Officer Joseph Iser is a phantom at work.

Cherie Mancini used to head the union that represents health district employees.

"I do know there's an issue of where he lives, what his residence is," she said. "I've only actually seen him probably three times since I've had to go over there."

Former and current employees have also noticed but wish to remain unidentified.

"I've seen him six times in the whole year since we've been in this building. I never see him," said Whistleblower A.

"People who worked a year in the new building have maybe seen him four or five times. They purposely built that new head district so the directors and Dr. Iser can come in the back door and not walk through the staff area," said Whistleblower B.

Employees say they've witnessed a bizarre charade by Iser's staffers.

"Yes, she opens and closes the doors and turns the lights on and off to make it look like he's there," Whistleblower A said.

Dr. Iser approved the private work entrance for him and his directors to use, along with a private restroom for his personal use. His reserved parking spot is stenciled with a number one, which allowed the I-Team to monitor how often he's at work.

Our survey started on April 12. We made 20 checks, on different days, at different times during regular business hours, but mostly in the mornings, after the office was open. 

Iser's car was absent eight of the 22 times, about 30 percent. He missed a couple of Fridays, a board meeting and several public hearings. So, where was he?

"We heard he is living up in San Francisco part-time and that he was spending up to four days a week in San Francisco," said Whistleblower B.

Iser has owned a San Francisco home since 1993. It's worth close to $2 million. In February, the I-Team asked a bay area colleague to knock on the door for us, but no one answered. Records show Iser also owns a condo in Las Vegas. When he was hired here in 2013, he described the San Francisco house as his home base, it's not exactly a secret at the district.

"He's not here often. He has a place in San Francisco that I tracked down and he also has an office listed there," said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

Iser's desire for time off has caused him problems with previous employers and he's bounced around a lot. He had a long career with federal health agencies, the last five years in San Francisco. Months after he retired there, he became public health director for Nevada County in California. He quit two years later for a similar position in Yolo County, saying at the time it was so he could be closer to his family and friends in the Bay area. He lasted 18 months in Yolo. 

When he left, Iser complained to a newspaper about not being able to take time off. He also said he wanted to help a nephew who was expecting a baby. When he was hired in Las Vegas, he wrote that he left Yolo due to ethical considerations.

In 2011, he became chief health officer for the Washoe Health District. That too lasted less than two years. The stories vary about why he left. Iser told the Washoe board he had serious health issues and needed to take extended leave. He also said his grandson in the Bay area was about to have a baby. 

A majority of the board wanted him out. Within three months, Iser's health issues had been resolved because he was hired to head the Southern Nevada Health District. Iser wrote in his application he left Washoe because of a conflict with the county administrator. Employees here have made their own inquiries.

READ: Dr. Iser's responses to I-Team questions

"I've heard from people up there, he was never around, asked to take more time. They said no," Whistleblower A.

"The board up there forced him out," said Whistleblower B. "And we got him."

"I called Washoe County and they said, 'I can't tell you anything other than just read between the lines,'" Giunchigliani said.


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