Questions Shirley’s motives for recent Tuba City visit

The spur-of-the-moment visit, by Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. to Tuba City Regional Health Care Center (TCRHCC) on June 4 “to see for himself just what it is that has hospital staff and administrators at odds” was nothing more than a political opportunity to make him appear unbiased to the issues at large.

Mr. Shirley presented an Oscar winning presentation to the protesters and TCRHCC staff by visiting with various administrative office staff and asking employees directly to respond to what was really bothering them.

Employees were compelled by the notion that the President would make time to come to Tuba City to personally witness the controversy of turmoil brewing at TCRHCC. The employees poured out their hearts and souls by sharing their feelings and concerns regarding the unethical, unacceptable, and questionable actions (past, present and ongoing) of the chief executive officer, vice president of human services and the governing board.

The President commented to several staff members that he was told everything was okay out here. This is wrong. If the Navajo Nation President believes everything is okay with TCRHCC, then what does the rest of the Navajo Nation believe?

As I write this letter, everything is still at controversy at TCRHCC because nothing has been done about the issues brought forth by the employees and community members. It has been reported that the complaints are not valid and that the complaining group is comprised of a small group of people.

The fact is each and every complaint is valid and the number of individuals in protest comprises of a very large number of hospital employees, including community supporters. Actually, it is certain family members from the governing board who are making these false statements.

It is common knowledge that Mr. Shirley has a long-standing relationship with the Maxx family (of Tuba City) to whom the TCRHCC Governing Board President is married. Native American Church (NAC) members have stated that the Maxx’s have conducted NAC services for Mr. Shirley. This relationship stems prior to his presidency and continues to this day. During his visit to TCRHCC, he presented himself to be unbiased to the protesters and to the staff, yet, it is an obvious conflict of interest because of this established relationship.

It makes one wonder what was the real purpose of the President’s visit? Was he here to get information to share with the Maxx’s? What did his visit accomplish? He implied to the staff that he would make every effort to bring harmony back to the hospital.

He made it sound like he would take immediate action, and to date nothing has come out of his office regarding these issues and concerns. The outcome of his visit was a meeting, which occurred the following Monday with the IGR (Inter-Governmental Relations) Committee. In turn, this meeting only resulted in changes to the dates when the IGR committee would reconvene to discuss theses issues.

Whatever Mr. Shirley’s intent was and is, it does not appear sincere. What is apparent is TCRHCC employees and community protesters were taken advantage in their low state of morale with false hope of immediate action from our president. We ended up more disappointed than we were before his visit. However, this disappointment has fueled our energy and commitment to see this matter through.

The most recent setback is the attempted removal of Hope MacDonald from the IGR committee by Raymond Maxx.

Why is it that council delegates, who represent community members and their concerns are subjected to vengeful acts of this type?

And why are Mr. Maxx’s actions condoned by our elected representatives? Ms. MacDonald has the integrity and tenacity to step forward and sincerely represent her community, which we have yet to see from Mr. Shirley and/or Mr. Maxx.

Elizabeth. Begay

Tuba City, Ariz.

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