Life happens, hospital district chairwoman says of staff resignations

ALPINE – After a lot of discussion at its previous meeting over what should be required of a replacement for Big Bend Regional Hospital District Executive Director Quinton Sledge, the district Chair Lisa Taylor said this week a new district manager will be hired at the March 27 meeting in Alpine.

Sledge resigned effective March 2 and two patient advocates also resigned in short order, leading Taylor to defend the big turnover by calling it a “coincidence.

“I know there has been a lot of concern by the public about what has happened to the district,” Taylor said. “Life has happened.

“Changes happen in life and you can’t help changes,” she said. “If people want to know what’s going on, they are more than welcome to come to our meetings.”

She spoke after Friday’s meeting at which the five board members and a reporter were the only ones in the room. The discussion about the new director occurred in a closed-door executive session.

“This is not the big scare situation some people make it out to be,” she said.

Taylor said the new district manager “definitely” will be hired at the March 27 meeting. They already have “a couple” of candidates and are actively advertising in local newspapers and on line.

She said the name was changed from executive director to district manager to make the job description better fit the actual duties expected.

Board Secretary Allen Haley said the original reason for the name change was that most board members felt the position was “more of a working office manager. He was not a director of the district. The board members are all directors.”

But he said the sentiment has changed.

“At least [Board Vice President] Marco [Baeza] said this person should be an executive rather than a working employee,” he said. “It may change.

“His exact statement was ‘There is a lot I wouldn’t do if I didn’t have a contract,’” Haley said.

But Board Member Bob Rice, who has agreed to oversee writing a job description, said he likely will keep the district manager name in the new job description.

It will be adopted shortly before the new position is filled at the March 27 meeting but Rice said he could have a draft that could be used for job interviews.

Haley said if there is a contract, it will not be as extensive as Sledge had.

Taylor said the board has hired Diana Aguirre Armendariz as the second patient advocate in Presidio, replacing Denise Castillo, who also recently resigned. Aguirre joins Lizette Rohana in the Presidio patient advocate office.

Alpine Patient Advocate Alexandra Moldovan also resigned at about the same time.

Taylor said Castillo resigned because she had found a better job and Moldovan wanted a job that would give her more time with her family.

She said the resignations did not result in any lost time in working with the indigent, the main purpose for having created the hospital district.

The board also is looking for a replacement for Finance Director Imelda Natera, who resigned earlier, and an administrative assistant. At present, it is using an outside financial firm at the cost of about $2,500 a month.

Former Administrative Assistant Carlon Logan, who is undergoing cancer treatments, has agreed to perform some of her old duties as her health permits. Former Patient Advocate, now Alpine City Secretary Cynthia Salas, will help where she can.

And Jerry Johnson has agreed to help out as time permits after his main job of providing prescription drugs to Marfa in the Marfa Meds program.

Logan “has been a real trooper and been willing to fill in,” Haley said. “We’d be in terrible fate if we didn’t have her and Jerry to fill in.”

He said until the position can be filled, Johnson will man the Alpine Office at 801 E. Holland Avenue from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday’s and Thursdays.