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New documents suggest Desert Health Care District CEO was terminated “without cause”

New information obtained by News Channel 3 reveals new details about former Desert Health Care District Dr. Conrado Bárzaga's contract and final pay, suggesting he was terminated without cause.

The documents reveal he was paid a severance of 6-months salary, totaling nearly 150-thousand dollars, along with over 34-thousand dollars in vacation time among other things. 

The amount is consistent with the terms of his last contract, which states that if released "without cause," he would be paid the six months of severance pay. 

Additionally, Dr. Bárzaga was released just getting a raise and contract extension this past Summer.

Dr. Bárzaga's sudden termination came as a shock to many, with community members expressing their dismay at DHCD's Board of Directors meet held Tuesday — one day after the announcement.

"I don't think this district has ever had a better CEO," said Palm Springs resident Greg Rodriguez. "And I would really encourage you to reconsider." 

Dr. Bárzaga's termination was announced Monday, with Chris Christensen named as the interim CEO.

News of his dismissal was quickly met with defense from local leaders, including Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D, CA-25) and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.

The district has not provided an explanation for Dr. Bárzaga's termination — only saying it's a personnel matter. 

We've reached out to Dr. Bárzaga — he has declined to comment.

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