Critical of hospital CEO, Gallup doctors threaten to quit | KOB 4

Critical of hospital CEO, Gallup doctors threaten to quit

Megan Abundis
Updated: May 08, 2020 10:14 PM
Created: May 08, 2020 09:06 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Doctors at Rehoboth McKinley hospital in Gallup are threatening to quit.

During the protest Friday, health care workers complained about being understaffed. They also said healthcare licenses are at risk because of decisions made by the hospital's CEO.

"Our tools were taken away from us. Our nurses. And right now, I have to watch nurses cry because they feel like they can't do good by their patients," said Dr. Chris Hoover.

They've demanded the hospital board make changes, but they say nothing has worked, and they have no other recourse. So, seven doctors say they'll leave because of a what they claim is a long history of poor management by CEO David Conejo.

Staff at the hospital say he abruptly terminated 17 nurses right before the pandemic hit Gallup. Now, Gallup is one of the worst areas for COVID-19 in New Mexico.

"Our staff is exhausted, tired, and our chronic nursing shortage, chronic under-staffing and failure to appropriately staff our nursing units have come to a head at this time," said Dr. Val Wangler, chief medical officer at Rehoboth Mckinley Christian Health Care Services. 

The doctors say their patients aren't getting the care they deserve.

During Friday's protest, state Sen. George Munoz demanded that the CEO resign within 24 hours.

"This has all come to a head because of the administration of RMCHC is not respecting their employees," he said.

"You cannot have a small hospital like that and have seven doctors leave a community with the highest rate in the state," he added.

To make matters worse, the chief nursing officer said many nurses tested positive for COVID-19, and the only pulmonologist in Gallup quit last week because he worked for six straight weeks.

The hospital released a statement in response to the protests and threat of doctors quitting: 

"Our focus remains firmly on providing the very best care to our community and most especially patients battling COVID-19. Our dedicated staff of professional caregivers is working around the clock as a team to care for members of our community."

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