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Ruiz, Perez ‘shocked’ by sudden dismissal of Desert Healthcare District CEO, ask Board to reconsider

Desert Healthcare District (DHCD) announced Monday morning that Dr. Conrado Bárzaga will no longer serve as their CEO.

Local elected leaders quickly came to Dr. Bárzaga's defense.

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D, CA-25) issued a statement saying he was "shocked and dismayed" over the dismissal, calling the change "sudden." Dr. Ruiz is asking the Board to reconsider.

I am shocked and dismayed to hear of the sudden dismissal of Dr. Conrado Barzaga as CEO of the Desert Healthcare District by the District’s board members. Dr. Bárzaga has worked tirelessly for everyone in the Coachella Valley regardless of income or zip code and has brought incredible success to the District’s mission. He and I have worked together in collaboration with many organizations to protect our most vulnerable residents during the pandemic and because of this work many lives were saved. His leadership in this partnership gave the District national prominence for innovative and effective healthcare delivery and health educational outreach for the most vulnerable and hardest to reach communities. He also represented the District well in Washington DC during a policy roundtable regarding reducing healthcare disparities and improving the health of farmworkers in the Coachella Valley. His drive to serve the underserved is inspirational. We have worked together tirelessly to improve the public’s health, reduce health disparities, and improve access to affordable quality care for everyone, especially for those that have been left out for too long. For all of these reasons, I respectfully urge the Board to reconsider.

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D, CA-25)

In a statement released by his office this afternoon, Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez expressed "strong and urgent disagreement" over the decision to relieve Bárzaga of his duties.

"It doesn’t appear that there was any reason given for the change in Dr. Bárzaga’s employment with the Desert Healthcare District," Perez said. "We would have to gather information to make sure it was truly a matter of performance, and not on some unfair grounds. In my opinion, Dr. Bárzaga was the best CEO and his positive impact on the district was noticeable. I am hoping the Desert Healthcare District Board will reverse this decision."

The DHCD Board has named Chris Christensen, Chief Administration Officer, as interim CEO.

Bárzaga had served as CEO for four years.

News Channel 3 has reached out to Dr. Bárzaga for comment.

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