The Battle Mountain General Hospital Board of Trustees unanimously voted to remove Bryan Hargis from the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Battle Mountain General Hospital (BMGH). He served in the position for only two months. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Steve Boline resigned from his position before the hospital board meeting that sent Hargis on his way.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the BMGH board revealed letters from hospital staffers complaining about Hargis and his recent changes. Staff members claimed they received threats of reprimand and retaliation from Hargis.
Dr. Robin Willcourt, disturbed by the long shifts Hargis and Boline expected the physicians to work, gave several letters and a long statement about his displeasure.
Willcourt said, "There is lots of data showing that if you make people work more than two days in a row, their productivity goes down and the error rates go up. That is anywhere on-call where they don't get sleep in a 30-hour period - and Bryan was asking people to work 56 hours while covering ER (Emergency Room) patients and [doing] clinic work. It's simply not possible."
Willcourt was not alone, as several concerned residents and staff members filled the small board room and expressed their concerns over Hargis's operation of the hospital. County Commissioner and hospital board member Doug Mills described the charged crowd atmosphere, saying, "I get the feeling this is almost like a lynch mob, which is very disturbing."
Mills recommended to the other board members that the hospital "disengage from the contract" with Hargis as CEO and made a motion to that end, early in the discussion. Mills said, "Recognizing the situation for what it is, at this point, there is no salvaging keeping Mr. Hargis as our CEO."
One Emergency Medical Services paramedic, Steve Towne, said, "I stand here today in support the employees who felt like they had to send in anonymous letters." Towne noted the fear of retaliation was real with Hargis as CEO and that he himself had been encouraged to resign for speaking out.
County Commissioner Art Clark, who does not hold a seat on the hospital board, spoke out as well, saying, "There is no disgrace in hiring the wrong person, but there is a great disgrace in keeping a person that is not going to work out."
"And we're correcting that, right now," board member Marla Sam said.
The board unanimously voted to remove Hargis as CEO. Board members then turned to the issue of collecting the necessary hospital items from Hargis.
The board asked Lander County Sheriff Ron Unger to assist in escorting Hargis to his office in the hospital to clean it out. Unger stated, "If Hargis attempts to access the hospital tonight, just give us (Sheriff's Office) a call."
The board discussed the possibility of using Hunter Ambrose to search for the replacement CEO. However, this option was met with strong disagreements from the public. The board decided to table that decision for a separate meeting.
Concerned citizen Alicia Price stated, "I would hope you (the board) would listen to your employees and your constituents this time, as you did not last time."
Clark complimented the large crowd, stating, "This is the biggest gathering of concerned citizens, that I have seen since 1980. Thank you." The search is now ongoing to hire a new CEO, but until that point, Kathy Ancho will serve as interim CEO.