By RICHARD REYES, Independent Gallup
GALLUP, NM (AP) – When local educator Lindsey Mingus’s water broke in the middle of the night while pregnant with her second child, she went to Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital because her husband had to stay home to take care of their son. , who was 3 years old at the time.
Labor and delivery nurse Beatrice NuÃ±ez was there to deliver Mingus’ firstborn, Isaac. She was still there this time.
âThe fact that the same nurse in labor and delivery was part of my two children’s entry into this world was heartwarming, knowing that she had been with me both times,â Mingus told a town hall on October 2 at a Gallup church.
Mingus, who has lived in Gallup with her husband for nine years and who plans to stay in the community, said NuÃ±ez and a deputy doctor caught her baby boy, Benjamin, who must have been a girl.
At birth, Benjamin was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. He was taken to the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque while Mingus was left alone at Rehoboth McKinley.
But she was not entirely alone.
Mingus said NuÃ±ez stayed with her during the nurses’ shift change, the Gallup Independent reported. Sara Pikaart, the duty and delivery nurse, and other nurses also stayed with her and watched her through the night until her husband could arrive.
A nurse made her a sandwich to eat at 2 a.m. while she was expressing milk that she could later bring to Benjamin in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at UNM Hospital.
âIt meant so much to me,â she said.
Mingus’ emotional testimony came a week after the labor and delivery unit at Rehoboth McKinley was closed due to a shortage of nurses following the resignation of NuÃ±ez, Pikaart and others due to problems with security and a lack of support from the hospital administration.
âThe closure of the labor and delivery unit is devastating for this community because these women, nurses and caregivers not only care for mothers, infants, but their families,â Mingus said. âAnd my heart breaks for this community and the expectant mothers and families who are now scrambling to find their care. Going to Albuquerque is not always an option for women in this region. I know this is not something I am capable of doing, and we need to reestablish L and D unity here for our families and our community.
The town hall also intervened in the wake of the confirmation of the vote to organize doctors at Rehoboth McKinley. Of the 25 eligible physicians and advanced practice providers, 23 voted and a majority voted to move forward with a partnership with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.
The recent meeting was organized by representatives of UAPD as well as members of the local organizing committee. Doctors, nurses and community members shared testimonials about Rehoboth McKinley’s problems as well as potential solutions.
Rachel Flores, organizing director of UAPD, called on those present to literally stand behind the doctors and nurses in a demonstration of support.
“Are you on board? Flores asked. “Are you ready to take over your hospital?”
Flores, who is based in Sacramento, also issued a call to action to community members, urging them to contact members of Gallup City Council, McKinley County Council of Commissioners and the Board of Trustees of Rehoboth McKinley to voice their concerns.
Dr Caleb Lauber, a former doctor with Rehoboth McKinley who was fired in July, chaired the roundtable.
Lauber, originally from Houck, Arizona, was the only Navajo physician and the only Navajo speaking physician at the hospital.
Lauber, who has an MBA, became chief of staff in January and was the physician representative on the board. Lauber said he raised questions and concerns to the board and also applied to become CEO. He believes he was seen as a threat to the organization and that he was unfairly dismissed.
âThe main thing I want you to know and really feel this is that this is your hospital,â he told the audience. âThe hospital building is run and managed by the county with your tax dollars. You pay for it and it’s our hospital, so we can continue to let it be the hospital it is with messy surveillance. I’m one of those people who don’t want to put up with this.
Gallup resident Larry Smith asked what it would take to fix the problems at the hospital. He noted that CEO after CEO has arrived, but the same problems keep recurring. He noted that he worked briefly at the hospital after retiring from his own business.
âI saw money going out the windows like you couldn’t believe – hundred dollar bills, thousand dollar bills going out the window, wasted,â he said. âWhen I was working there there were issues with the building itself which was not being repaired. “
Lauber said it was important to look at the past and the fact that businessmen oversaw the hospital. He believes it is time for local doctors to become administrators. He cited Dr Valory Wangler, Dr Lawrence Andrade and Dr Chris Hoover as examples of potential leaders.
âThe people who will do the best job are people who reside in the community and want to do a good job for the community because this is their home,â Lauber said. âWe’re on a downward trajectory right now and we really need to rectify this problem. And in my opinion, I think we need to get out of the administration that is currently present at RMCH.
More transparency, better control
Dr Connie Liu, a doctor at Gallup Indian Medical Center, stressed that more transparency was needed from the board and management.
âAnd more expectations to respond to the community and not the other way around,â she said.
Liu said doctors at Rehoboth McKinley have drawn up a list of demands for local leaders: greater transparency; local consideration of local issues and local orientation; and better oversight by the board of executive management and the way the hospital is run.
Hoover, Liu’s husband and a urologist at Rehoboth McKinley, pointed out that he was unaware of the agendas and minutes of board meetings. Instead, he has to trust the current chief of staff as a representative on the board, but he doesn’t trust that person.
âWe need to hold the board of directors accountable for our hospital,â Hoover said. âHow can we do this without transparency? “
Betsy Meester, a former employee of Rehoboth McKinley, said she quit because she felt like a fraudster working for the hospital. She noted that the problems at the hospital are not limited to the Women’s Health Service.
Hoover agreed, noting that medical assistants and other hospital staff were conspicuously absent from the meeting because the administration has created a culture of fear of speaking out by telling employees they are replaceable.
“We need a voice, we need to restore some balance in the power dynamics that are present in the hospital right now, so that we can ask for things that we think are reasonable, that we think safe, that we think our patients, who are we, need and want, âhe said.
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