By Deb Murphy
July 14, four months after the $17.5 million clinic opened, the Toiyabe Indian Health Project board of directors voted to suspend Chief Executive Officer David Lent, Chief Operations Officer Rick Frey, Chief Financial Officer Mary Daniels and Human Resources Manager Cyndee Kiddoo, without pay for 60 days while an investigation looks into personnel issues.
To date, that investigation has not begun according to board member John Glazier.
“It’s politics,” said Glazier in a phone interview pointing a finger at board members from the Bishop Paiute Tribe, one of seven Tribes within the TIHP Eastern Sierra service area. Glazier cited mutterings that the lease on the land the clinic was built on wasn’t handled in the open—something Glazier denies vehemently. “It was all in the open,” he said, “with the approval of the Tribal Council.”
The TIHP board was sent a letter from Kiddoo’s assistant, Geraldine Weaver maintaining she was not being given the authority to make decisions. The July 14 meeting was called to discuss the complaint. The vote at that initial meeting was 8-4 to suspend the four administrators. As chairman, Glazier could not vote. Glazier resigned as chair; a second meeting was called, the re-vote was still 7-6.
The biggest issue for Glazier is the survival of the clinic, built with a $14 million long-term loan from the United States Department of Agriculture and operated with both state and federal grant funds.
The former board chair had to tell Lent of the board’s decision. As he headed toward Lent’s office, “I kept asking myself ‘why am I doing this?’” Glazier still can’t figure it all out. “This is overkill for what is a simple personnel issue.”
“David (Lent) did what I do (as chair of the Bridgeport Indian Colony),” he said. “I hire highly-qualified people to do the jobs.”
As CEO, Lent makes the final decision on hires and raises. He had frozen raises, according to Glazier, but when Frey was given added responsibility as COO, his salary increased. But Glazier can’t figure out why Daniels was included in the four suspensions.
Glazier contacted the California Rural Indian Health Board to send staffers to work with interim CEO Cynthia Stone and interim HR manager Weaver to help operate the clinic. His concern is keeping medical staff on board and keeping up with the requirements and reporting on the grants. “The doctors and pharmacy threatened to walk,” he said.
As for the investigation into the allegations of improper personnel issues, Glazier said the board rejected an offer to handle the investigation from a Sacramento-area law firm.
USDA staffers have called a meeting of the TIHP board this Thursday at 10 a.m. at the clinic on See Vee Lane. Apparently, one of the stipulations of the loan to build the clinic was notification of the department of 20-percent of the administration changed. The four suspendees represent 80-percent of the clinic’s administrators.