Heidi Bunch
Hugh Qualls was (left) was named new chief executive officer of Mount Grant General Hospital on Monday. He takes over for Richard Munger (right) who was with the hospital for over 40 years.

The Mount Grant General Hospital Board of Trustees met on Monday, July 24 to welcome Hugh Qualls as their new chief executive officer.

Qualls will be taking the place of existing CEO Richard Munger who had been with the hospital for over 40 years.

Human Resource Manager Jonalee Roberts explained that there were 26 resumes received for the position. Out of those applications, one applicant rescinded their resume and 20 applicants did not meet the qualification. From there five applicants were narrowed down.

Trustee Tom Fitzgerald explained his reasoning for the appointment of Qualls. He said, “Mr. Qualls has two residences in the area. He loves the county, the area and he does not have CEO experience in the medical business but he does have a lot of experience in business administration.”

Fitzgerald explained that after two days of interviews and much discussion, it was decided that Qualls would be the best fit for the position of CEO of Mount Grant General Hospital.

Qualls said, “We all have a common goal to sustain this hospital and the services that it provides to not only Hawthorne but the surrounding communities. I think we are all united in that regard.”

In his letter of application regarding the administrator position, Qualls stated that his two years of service as a trustee on the Mount Grant General Hospital Board gave his insight into the daily operations and the leadership required to manage the facility.

“Experience has taught me how to create and sustain strong relationships among all departments within an organization; at MGGH, this will extend from the Board of Trustees, Medical and Nursing Staffs, Allied Health Services, to patients and the communities we serve,” his letter stated.

Fitzgerald thanked current CEO Richard Munger for making Mount Grant General Hospital where it is at today.

Dr. Juanchichos Ventura discussed his reason as to why Qualls was his pick. He emphasized that other candidates did not have the longevity to stay with Mount Grant General Hospital but he did question “glaring weakness” of no hospital administration featured on Qualls’ resume. Dr. Ventura wanted the board to focus on finding a solution to bridge the gap between new and outgoing CEO’s.

Though public comment was requested many times, there was none given.

The board discussed Qualls’ employment agreement. The date of employment would begin on July 31. Knowing the distance that the two CEO’s will have to cover, the date was moved to Tuesday, July 25. His annual compensation will be $135,000 with a review after six months of employment and annually thereafter.

Dr. Ventura was concerned about the hospital paying two CEO’s their salary during the transition period. The board as well as Roberts, explained that during the transition phase, both will be paid their salary.

The agreement does state, “CEO’s compensation shall not be decreased unless Hospital is required to reduce the overall compensation to a majority of Hospital’s employees, due to a cost reduction program. In this event, CEO’s compensation will be decreased by an average percentage to the overall decrease in staff compensation as part of the cost reduction program.”

The Independent-News was contacted by concerned citizens regarding Nevada Revised Statute 281A.550 paragraph 3 which covers “Ethics in Government”.

The statute reads, “In addition to the prohibitions set forth in subsections 1 and 2, and except as otherwise provided in subsections 4 and 6, a former public officer or employee of a board, commission, department, division or other agency of the Executive Department of State Government, except a clerical employee, shall not solicit or accept employment from a business or industry whose activities are governed by regulations adopted by the board, commission, department, division or other agency for 1 year after the termination of the former public officer’s or employee’s service or period of employment…”

To clarify the concerns, the Independent-News reached out to the State of Nevada Ethics Commission. After sharing the concerns of residents and the story behind Qualls acceptance, it was the opinion of the ethics commission representative that “There is no need for a ‘cooling off period’ needed as Qualls is not leaving a government position and going into the private sector instead he is going from government to government.”

Qualls gave a short speech to those in attendance after the acceptance to the CEO position noting the need for Munger’s guidance during this position.

“As a critical access hospital in Nevada, you [hospital staff] are able to provide health care to rural Nevadans, which is 10 percent of the population which would not have access to health care. You have a special mission and added responsibility to achieve that mission but your dedication is what makes it possible. So for that, in the weeks ahead, whatever guidance and direction you can give me would be much appreciated.”

The board of trustees voted unanimously for the appointment of Qualls. It should be noted that Qualls wrote a letter of resignation as a member of the Mount Grant General Hospital Board of Trustees which was accepted by the board on June 22 of this year.

“With nearly 25 years of residency in Mineral County, I am keenly aware of the challenges we face in our remote, rural location. Mount Grant General Hospital plays a vital role in our community and is deeply connected to its future success; as hospital administrator, I will dedicate myself to continuing this exemplary legacy of service and care,” Qualls concluded in his letter of application.