TUBA CITY — After two months of turmoil stemming from disputed job terminations, Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) Board of Directors has fired its Chief Executive Officer Kirk Gray.
Cynthia Denny, TCRHCC director of marketing, communications & business development, issued a brief press release on June 25 announcing Gray’s dismissal.
The hospital board has named James Hopkins as acting CEO while it pursues an interim director. Hopkins has previously served as Chief Financial Officer at the health care center.
In the meantime, there is a movement underway to remove the entire TCRHCC Board.
On June 13, the Tuba City Chapter passed a resolution urging the Navajo Nation Health and Social Services Committee, the Inter-Governmental Relations Committee and Council Delegates to direct the TCRHCC board “to vacate their positions immediately,” along with Gray and the hospital’s personnel director, Brenden Robinson. The vote on the resolution was 28 in favor of it, one opposed and eight abstaining.
TC Chapter officials listed 17 reasons for their decision including the following:
• TCRHCC’s CEO, Kirk Gray, hired by the board of directors, has replaced Indians with non-Indians in the top management positions, caused turmoil and a hostile work environment in the hospital.
• TCRHCC’s medical staff has voted no confidence in the hospital board, its CEO and personnel director and directed both the Health and Social Services Committee and IGR Committee to seek their resignations. Reasons mentioned for the vote of no confidence are “failure in communication, lack of leadership, lack of accountability and lack of knowledge and overall operation of the hospital.”
• Failure to keep the people of Tuba City Chapter abreast of TCRHCC’s finances.
• The need for an audit in compliance with annual federal appropriations requirements when questions of fiscal responsibility arise.
Problem began at TCRHCC on April 30 when seven employees were either terminated, reassigned or they resigned. One returned to his or her job within two days. Two others were reassigned to Indian Health Service locations. Two resigned, although they say they were forced out.
Two of those who were terminated were Clinical Director Mark Carroll and Tom Chabin from the business development office at the medical center.
The firings and resignations resulted in a week of demonstrations outside the medical center.
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp. took over the hospital’s 638 contract in Sept. 30, 2002, making it a private corporation under its board’s control. Prior to that the hospital was an Indian Health Service facility funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
After the unrest over the firings, the Navajo Tribal Council’s Health and Human Services Committee held hearings about the Tuba City situation. The council’s IGR Committee has been discussing whether to renew, reject or modify the health care corporation’s 638 contract.