A Portuguese physician and chemist was dismissed from his position as a professor at USP’s Chemistry Institute after accepting a temporary job at the Rondônia State Department of Health in January this year. He faces an administrative lawsuit at the university for the same reason.
Luis Moreira Gonçalves, 36, worked on an emergency basis in a health unit set up for the treatment of Covid-19 in the state of the North region and is facing administrative proceedings for having accumulated public positions. After opening the process, Gonçalves ended up asking for his resignation.
His curriculum includes a degree and doctorate in chemistry (both from the University of Porto) and a degree in basic sciences of medicine, followed by a master’s degree in medicine (both from the University of Minho).
The professor complains about the lack of agility and bureaucracy at USP in view of his request to work as a doctor in Porto Velho, the state capital, a decision that, for him, was urgent. Its performance in Rondônia took place at one of the most critical moments of the pandemic in the country.
The USP rectory, in turn, says that the accumulation of positions was illegal and that the professor submitted his request for the university to authorize the trip just two days before he was hired by the medical team in Rondônia.
Gonçalves participated in a selection process opened by the government of Rondônia to compose emergency medical teams and was called in at a time when there was a lack of medical labor at the health units in Porto Velho.
Before his resignation, he worked as a general practitioner at the East Zone Campaign Hospital, in Porto Velho, with a weekly workload of 40 hours and an initial salary of around R$ 9,000. At USP, he received a salary of around R$ 11,000 and ended up being paid by the two institutions between February 1st and April 10th, when he left the temporary job.
In an email dated Feb. 11, however, he questioned whether USP could give him an unpaid leave. The email, according to him, was not answered.
The doctor justifies his choice by the urgency demanded with the number of deaths and the lack of doctors in the region. “It didn’t make sense, during a pandemic, for me to stay on my couch, even because the university was practically closed. In January there were no classes. So, if I had the technical capacity to help, not helping didn’t make sense,” says Gonçalves.
Along with the request for authorization for temporary work, the teacher presented a document issued by the government of Rondônia.
“In view of the current state of public calamity, I hereby request that it be authorized [autorizem Gonçalves] to pursue his performance as a medical professional, through the great responsibility and excellence of the work developed.”
Gonçalves says he understood that this was an urgent situation. “When I went there, in February, the number of doctors was extremely low. In other words, I didn’t replace anyone. There was clearly a shortage of doctors. Today the situation is better. When I left there, in April, there was already enough medical staff. “, he adds, who is currently working as a general practitioner in a hospital in Recife.
According to the doctor’s report, every day there were deaths in the unit. “There were days that, in 12 hours, there were six, seven deaths. We received patients from all over the state, not just from the city of Porto Velho. [Vinham] from the Bolivian border, from several cities.”
The Chemistry Institute’s board of directors says that it received Professor Gonçalves’s leave of absence on January 28, two business days before he took office as a doctor in Rondônia.
“Aware of its humanitarian purposes, the board of directors made every effort to have their request deliberated in the shortest possible time,” says the university’s rectory.
“However, the documentation presented, in good faith, by the said professor, informed that he would be in the process of illicitly accumulating public function within the scope of the state government of Rondônia (there is no legal thesis or precedent that would have made it more flexible, during the Covid pandemic -19, the constitutional requirements for the accumulation of positions).”
According to the institution, Gonçalves’ absence would also “violate the regime of full dedication to teaching and research (RDIDP) of the university for which he was hired”.
“One particularly nasty thing about all this,” says Gonçalves, “is that one of the lawyers I hired said that with my resignation, I could ask them to stop the administrative process.” The request to stop the process was made through lawyers.
The university, however, continued with the procedure, he says. The professor fears that the process will prevent him from acting as a researcher in the country or from taking public examinations for a long period, including for a doctor in a public hospital.
The USP rectory says, however, that “the process lost its object with the request for dismissal”. In the opening document of the process, dated March 17, a deadline of 60 days is set for its conclusion.