Besieged hospital on edge of Navajo Nation fires CEO, asks for unity

By Moran Lee, Associated Press

The hospital laid off nurses in March as a cost-saving measure only to be overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus infections, including from the neighboring Navajo Nation, which has been hit hard by the virus.

Dozens of hospital staff contracted the virus as doctors and nurses scrambled to attend to critically ill COVID-19 patients, eventually opting to transfer patients with severe respiratory problems to health care facilities in Albuquerque.

Employees protested working conditions and unanswered questions about hospital finances near the height of local infections, calling on Conejo to resign.

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In this photo taken May 8, 2020, medical staff from Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital hold a protest over working conditions and depleted staff in Gallup, N.M. Many nurses and doctors say staffing at the hospital was inadequate because of hospital CEO David Conejo’s move to cut back on nurses in the first week of March to offset declining hospital revenues after elective surgeries were suspended. They voiced their discontent at the recent protest calling for his resignation. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee) ljojola@abqjournal.com Thu Jun 11 19:19:55 -0600 2020 1591924792 FILENAME: 1757802.jpg