Mike Chicarelli strode the halls of the children’s pavilion at the University of New Mexico Hospital, fist-bumping nurses and proudly pointing out the hospital’s kid-friendly touches: the surgery waiting room with seats shaped like hot air balloons, the intake counter designed like a 1950s soda fountain. The former emergency nurse, now chief operating officer of UNM Hospitals, was showing off what $234 million could buy a decade ago in infrastructure and technology. But all the bells and whistles haven’t been enough for UNM to hold onto its top pediatric specialists. Competition between UNM and Presbyterian Hospital – the two largest providers of pediatric specialty care in the state – has made it hard for either to sustain programs in cardiology, neurology and other areas of children’s medicine. The hospitals are now discussing a possible joint venture – a single children’s hospital, unified under common governance or housed under the same roof – that would help New Mexico retain hard-to-recruit pediatric specialists, improve care coordination and raise the bar on patient outcomes.
After a contentious trial filled with tears, frustration and sharp warnings from the judge, both parties in a whistleblower lawsuit came to an agreement late Thursday night. The confidential settlement between the University of New Mexico Hospital and a former resident came after almost two weeks of testimony and hours before the jury was set to hear closing arguments. Former UNMH medical resident Dr. Cynthia Herald sued the school, alleging she was pushed out of the program after she told her bosses she was raped by a male colleague. UNMH attorneys disagreed, saying they removed her from the residency program because she made many possibly fatal mistakes during surgeries, had a prescription drug problem and did not take responsibility for her shortcomings. Related: See all our stories from this trial
Herald told reporters after the trial she feels “a huge sense of relief” but that the decision to settle was not an easy one.
For a second day in a row fireworks lit up behind the scenes, without the jury present in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the University of New Mexico Hospital. Dr. Cynthia Herald, a former medical resident, filed the lawsuit, alleging she was fired after telling her bosses that a male colleague raped her. Update: The two sides reached a settlement.
Like Wednesday, tensions between lawyers simmered Thursday morning, prompting District Judge Shannon Bacon to address both counsels. “You all hate this case,” Bacon said to lawyers for both UNMH and Herald. Bacon’s comment came after UNMH lawyers requested a mistrial, the third request so far in the two-week-long trial.
A judge nearly threw the case out and a lawyer made a witness cry on the seventh day of trial in a whistleblower lawsuit against the University of New Mexico Hospital. Former UNM medical resident Dr. Cynthia Herald alleges UNMH officials unlawfully dismissed her from the residency program after she reported a colleague raped her. Update: The two sides reached a settlement.
After almost a full day of routine testimony, the judge came close to declaring a mistrial and had sharp words for Randi McGinn, one of Herald’s lawyers, over her comments to a witness outside the courtroom. Toward the end of the day’s proceedings, Dr. Sally Vender, an anesthesiologist, testified on behalf of UNMH. Vender described her friendship with Herald, which started when they were both first-year medical interns.
The sixth day of a trial in a whistleblower lawsuit against the University of New Mexico Hospital featured former and current hospital employees testifying about when former UNM resident Dr. Cynthia Herald told her bosses a colleague raped her and how her supervisors treated her afterwards. Neither side disputes that in September 2009, a few months after the alleged attack, Herald met with her supervisors and one woman tasked with taking notes. But neither side agrees what was said at the meeting. That meeting is a key event. Herald’s story about being kicked out of the residency program hinges on that meeting.
University of New Mexico lawyers questioned the former resident who brought a lawsuit against the medical school on Monday. UNM’s lawyers spent the day trying to poke holes in the testimony of Dr. Cynthia Herald, who alleges the medical school kicked her out of the residency program after she told administrators a male colleague raped her. Last week, Herald testified for hours about the events and UNMH’s response. Patricia Williams, a lawyer for UNMH, asked Herald what steps she took to preserve forensic evidence after the alleged rape. “Did you retain your underwear from that night?” Williams asked.
The former University of New Mexico medical resident who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university testified Thursday, the fourth day of the jury trial in Second Judicial District Court. Dr. Cynthia Herald, who accused medical school administrators of unlawfully firing her after she told them a male colleague raped her, gave her account of both the alleged rape and the aftermath. Herald told the jury that after the alleged attack she went home and took a shower before she began “soaking and crying for about an hour.”
“I just wanted to wash everything off of me down the drain,” Herald said. Herald also explained to the jury why she didn’t file a police report against the male doctor. “Instead of being the doctor who was smart or the doctor who was competent, I was always going to be known as the doctor who was raped,” Herald said through tears.
On the second day of a whistleblower trial against the state’s flagship university, the dean of the University of New Mexico’s medical school took the stand to testify concerning allegations that the hospital discriminated against a woman who says she was unlawfully fired after telling her superiors a fellow medical student raped her. UNM School of Medicine Dean Dr. Paul Roth testified that he does not remember being told resident Dr. Cynthia Herald reported the attack. When asked by Herald’s attorney Lisa Curtis if he would normally want to be notified of such an instance, Roth answered with two simple words. “Very likely,” Roth said. Previously: Whistleblower suit against UNM over rape allegation begins
Roth also confirmed to Curtis that, previously in his career, he reprimanded someone for sexual misconduct that happened off campus and during off hours.
A trial involving the University of New Mexico Hospital began Tuesday morning in an Albuquerque district court room with opening statements from both sides and initial witness testimony from former UNM doctors and a risk management expert. The whistleblower lawsuit filed against UNMH alleges administrators in the school’s medical residency program unlawfully fired Dr. Cynthia Herald after she told her superiors a male resident raped her. Both sides made their respective cases to the jury of 4 women and 10 men. Update, Day Two: Medical school dean testifies in whistleblower lawsuit
Herald’s attorney Randi McGinn painted the picture of a female anesthesiologist, in her second year of post-medical school experience, who was “washed out” of her residency program and is now left with a besmirched record, unable to obtain a well-paying job. McGinn told jurors after Herald reported the rape, medical school administrators began grading Herald’s job performance negatively.
A trial involving the University of New Mexico and its medical facility began Monday with jury selection. But after a decision from a district judge and a high ranking court official, no one from the public, including media, was allowed to witness the process of how or why each side selected or rejected jurors. The case goes back to 2011 when Dr. Cynthia Herald filed a lawsuit against UNM Hospital and some of its administrators for firing Herald after she said a male doctor raped her. Herald and the male doctor were both residents at UNM at the time, but Herald was dismissed from the program shortly after she reported the rape to her superiors. UNMH has maintained from the beginning they kicked Herald out of the residency program for subsequent drug use while on the job as an anesthesiologist.