Today we use The Nation magazine’s, stellar report, “How to Kill a Rural Hospital,” which lays out in vivid detail how Gallup’s Rehoboth McKinney Christian Hospital is being decimated by its Board, CEO, and consultants. It is a truly shocking report on how healthcare capitalism at its worst can destroy a hospital and badly damage a community, all for profit. We also highlight two NM Rising Political Stars.
Two NM Rising Political Stars
First we discuss Gabe Vasquez’s campaign, then Augi Montoya’s.
Roxanne and I attended a Gabe Vasquez Meet & Greet Tuesday night and I left even more inspired than when I interviewed him for Retake on the Radio (see below). Gabe spoke without notes or pause for 30 minutes, delineating positions on gun control, abortion, and our southern border. He didn’t equivocate — he spoke with humor and passion, using language that I could imagine a moderate Dem or Republican being able to hear, as his positions were framed in shared values. He spoke of being a hunter who is a responsible gun owner. He spoke of being “a Hispanic Catholic man, proud to support a woman’s right to choose.” He also spoke a good deal about his childhood, family, and how that childhood in Ciudad Juarez, Las Cruces, and Bloomington, Indiana, had forged his character and his views.
I’m sure he secured a large number of donations as attendees were clearly impressed. But he stressed that he needs to raise $15,000 a day for the next two months to fund a team of 15 canvassers and to produce and air TV and radio ads. He is locked in a tight race with Yvette Herrell, and a Gabe win would increase the Dems razor-thin chances of retaining control of the U.S. House, plus it would rid us of MAGA-deluded Herrell and replace her with a truly remarkable rising star. With a win, NM would be represented in the House by three stellar House members: Teresa Leger Fernandez, Melanie Stansbury, and Gabe. That would feel good. But it won’t happen if he doesn’t raise the funds to get out the vote. I wish I could have recorded his talk, but his interview with me will have to do. See below.
As noted above, Gabe is gonna need lots of donations over the coming weeks. So click here and please consider being as generous as possible. Gabe’s redrawn CD2 district extends up to West ABQ and they have canvassing every week, so if you live within an hour or two of West ABQ or anywhere in CD2, click here to sign up to be involved in canvassing and calling opportunities. Thirty-five percent of the Democratic votes in CD2 are in Bernalillo County, so there are lots of voters to engage there.
On Thursday, You Can Meet Another Rising Star: Augustine Montoya
There is another rising star Democrat that we endorse, Augustine (Augie) Montoya, running for State House District 22, and you can meet him here in Santa Fe on Thursday at 5:30pm. What is special about Augie, besides his being refreshing, very smart, just 22 years old and the diametric opposite of his opponent, Stefani Lord? Well he:
- Opposes hydrogen production;
- Supports community solar;
- Strongly supports a woman’s right to choose;
- Supports the Green Amendment; and
- Strongly opposes private prisons and would like the state to take over existing private prisons in NM.
Name one other NM rural politician with those positions. Like Gabe, Augie faces a MAGA-aligned, NRA-backed, ultra-conservative opponent, Stephanie Lord. So an Augie win would be a two-fer, add one progressive Representative and remove one ultra-conservative one.
We hope you’ll join Roxanne and I on Thursday night, meet Gabe, and bring your checkbook. After you hear from him, you’ll be ready to support him financially and maybe get out of your comfort zone and phone bank or even venture south and do some canvassing.
To RSVP, write to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com, and tell us how many are coming. Roxanne and I are co-hosting with our friends Mariel Nanasi and Jeff Haas. When you RSVP, we’ll send you the address. If you can’t make it, you can make a donation from your couch by clicking: http://secure.actblue.com/donate/augustinemontoya4newmexico
Many of you have told us of your having donated to either or both candidates, but we are asking you to do so again and to maybe ramp up the amount, if you can. If you haven’t donated yet, please consider donating to both campaigns now. These are young, rising star Dems who have the potential to play important roles in NM politics for decades, but they have to get elected first. That’s our job. Hope to see you Thursday night to meet Augie.
Gallup Hospital Mismanaged into the Ground, Perhaps Intentionally
To be fair, rural hospitals across the nation struggle to maintain financial health. According to The Nation‘s “How to Kill a Rural Hospital,” 7% of rural hospitals failed between 1987-1991, and the challenges are more formidable today, with more than 20% of the country’s 2,176 rural hospitals currently at risk of reducing services or shuttering altogether. Once done laying out the dire context in which all U.S. rural hospitals must operate, The Nation offers a blow-by-blow description of Rehoboth McKinney Christian Hospital (RMCH) and Gallup’s descent into healthcare hell. The RMCH board has:
- made one blundering CEO and consultant hire after another, including hiring a $475/hour union-busting consultant firm;
- authorized firing any staff who complain or offer a suggestion;
- removed all doctors and nurses from the Board.
RMCH’s response to a continuing fiscal crisis was recounted by The Nation:
“Rather than turn to local leaders to run the hospital, the board of trustees hired Community Hospital Corporation Consulting—a for-profit management services firm based in Plano, Tex., and controlled by the Community Hospital Corporation (CHC), a nonprofit that manages or owns 21 hospitals, primarily in the South and Southwest. Over the next two years, 148 employees, or about a third of the hospital’s staff, would leave. Entire units of the hospital would have to close. Last year, every Ob-Gyn doctor and all 18 nurses in the Labor and Delivery unit quit, temporarily shutting down the department and forcing patients to drive two hours to Albuquerque to deliver their babies. On August 3 of this year, the unit shut down for a second time—this time with no timeline for reopening.
Many of the doctors and nurses who left the hospital stayed in Gallup and started organizing against their former employer. They charge that CHC administrators retaliated against staff who raised safety concerns; failed to understand the economic and tribal dynamics of the region; and drove the hospital into record financial losses. They told me that without community involvement and control of RMCH, the area could lose the only hospital available to all residents.”The Nation‘s “How to Kill a Rural Hospital,”
RMCH’s leadership’s responses to the challenges faced by all rural hospitals has only exacerbated the situation. Indeed, as The Nation lays out in shocking detail, solving RMCH’s problems extend far beyond those of other rural hospitals as any effort to improve conditions would have to begin with removal of the entire board and terminating the contract with CHC, whose every decision seems intended to drive the hospital into bankruptcy so CHC can purchase the facility cheaply, a practice that CHC has employed before.
We wrote yesterday about how the Health Security Plan could support NM rural hospitals with tools like Global Hospital Budgeting and an All-Payer Health Professional Payment System. But those tools would be useless if managed by corrupt leadership with no intention of fixing a financial crisis such as at RMCH.
This is a crisis that needs to be solved now, as for thousands of New Mexicans RMCH is virtually their only healthcare option. RMCH serves a huge swath of western NM and Apache County across the NM-AZ border, where many of RMCH’s Navajo patients reside. The Nation makes clear that due to the RMCH Board’s almost unbelievable disregard for it doctors, nurses, patients, and communities, the hospital is nearing bankruptcy with their doctors forming a union to negotiate pay and work conditions and staff resigning en masse. While the medical crisis is very important, the hospital’s inability to serve its patients has other impacts on the health of the community. From The Nation:
“Brett Hartline, a Gallup resident and husband to a former RMCH physician, told me this is already happening. There are ‘elderly people in our community that are moving to Albuquerque, Phoenix, Scottsdale, wherever, because their health care needs cannot be met here,’ he said. “This was their hometown. And now they can’t stay.”The Nation‘s “How to Kill a Rural Hospital”
Who wants to live in a community without healthcare? Good luck attracting business or young people. We will return to this issue again, but we want to speak with folks from Gallup before offering options for action.
Besides, with the election campaign in full swing we all have plenty on our plates. Hope to see you tomorrow night at the Augie Meet & Greet.
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: State Elections