In his heyday, San Diego city emergency medical services director Jim Dunford cut a dashing figure, with stylishly long hair and a jazzy automobile. His profile rose yet further after he became enmeshed in a controversial UCSD study involving artificial blood transfusions, given without prior consent to comatose victims picked up by paramedics in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
“Remember it is not the City Council that 1st determines the worthiness of this or any big issue in the City — it is the Mayor’s office,” wrote Dunford, a UCSD medical school professor, in a 2006 email regarding the city’s pending approval of a subsequent cardiac arrest resuscitation study. “Now that the city has adopted a ‘strong mayor’ form of government, the City Council only becomes involved if the Mayor’s policy advisors recommend something... this is a big change since January. I am quite optimistic we will be all right.”
Per an August 2014 council document, Dunford’s 2017 compensation was set at $246,170, in an arrangement that over the years has allowed him to acquire a bevy of lucrative outside consulting gigs. Following retirement last month from his city role after 30 years, Dunford filed a personal financial disclosure statement showing that his Dunford Medical Consultation grossed more than $100,000, with clients including La Jolla nonprofit West Health Institute, once closely linked to chip-making giant Qualcomm.
Prior years’ clients included Norcal Mutual Insurance Company of San Francisco, Mission Valley’s Belsky & Associates, and MedAmerica Mutual Risk Retention Group of Walnut Creek, each paying him between $1000 and $10,000. Last year, “PennWell Publications provided a $1000 honorarium (I received the lifetime achievement award) plus economy airfare to/from Salt Lake City and hotel fare (3 nights), which I estimated to be worth $2200 total,” according to the document. “The Inst. of Behavioral Healthcare Improvement covered my economy class airfare to/from San Antonio and hotel fare (3 nights), which I estimated to be worth $1200 total. Vitalyst Health Foundation covered the cost of my economy airfare to/from Phoenix and hotel fare (1 night), which I estimated to be worth $500 total.”