The board of directors of Hidalgo Medical Services owes it every woman on staff to provide a workplace free from harassment, retaliation and fear.
The board owes the community the best healthcare possible. That can't happen with Dan Otero in charge.
Since I started looking into Otero's many lawsuits, speaking to dozens of people on staff, dozens of former employees, and at least six victims of harassment and retaliation, the board has dug in its heels and stood beside him, saying its investigations found no wrongdoing.
But Otero upped the clinic's insurance premiums on the day he fired one of the victims, and the insurance company came back and sued Otero and the clinic. Did the board's investigation miss that?
Dr. Darrick Nelson was having an affair with one of his subordinates and her estranged husband threatened her and the staff. Otero did nothing. Nelson got into a public fistfight with the man, Otero did nothing. The man eventually killed the HMS employee. How did the board's investigation miss that?
Otero boasted that the clinic treats 30 immigrants a month, a number he is no doubt using to get additional funding. Can't the board see that no immigrants are being brought here? Forget sexual harassment and retaliation, why is the board overlooking fraud?
HMS has pulled up stakes and moved up to Silver City, and the quality of care in this community has suffered because of it. Otero cost the clinic millions of dollars already, and by all indications the lawsuits will keep coming. A culture of "us versus them" pervades the organization, and since all of the senior management live and work in Silver City, "them" usually refers to the people of Lordsburg.
No employee guilty of sexual harassment, insurance fraud, retaliating against employees, or wrongful termination is worth defending. That Dan Otero has been credibly accused multiple times of all of those things, and the board is still giving him a $220,000 salary, should lead to federal and state investigations, sanctions against the clinic, and a few resignations.
Jason K. Watkins