The University of New Mexico paid out nearly $1 million to a former medical resident who accused medical school administrators of retaliating against her for reporting she was raped by a male resident. NM Political Report obtained the settlement agreement this week, nearly nine months after the case went to trial. The agreement, obtained by NM Political Report through a public records request, sheds some light on why the school settled with former University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center anesthesiology resident Cynthia Herald. But other specifics, like how much of the $800,000 settlement came from the school and how much from the state or what prompted the school to settle, remain murky at best. Herald now lives in Michigan, advocating for victims of sexual abuse and hopes to start a psychiatric residency program soon, according to her lawyer, Randi McGinn.
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.
Anti-abortion advocates from across the country held a press conference in Albuquerque Wednesday morning denouncing New Mexico’s flagship university for its fetal tissue donation practices. Among those who spoke at the event were Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican and Washington D.C. attorney Catherine Glenn Foster. Blackburn, who chaired the controversial congressional Select Panel on Infant Rights, said she came to “join my colleague in the House [of Representatives] and those in New Mexico that have worked on the issue of life.”
The Select Panel released a report in January faulting the University of New Mexico for lacking protocols to “ensure the survival of infants who show signs of life following extraction from the uterus.” It also scrutinized UNM’s relationship with Southwest Women’s Options, an abortion provider that has donated fetal tissue to the university for scientific research. Supporters of abortion rights, as well as minority Democrats in the Select Panel, have dismissed the report and the panel’s investigation for using “McCarthy-era tactics” to conduct “an end-to-end attack on fetal tissue donation and women’s health care.”
Pearce contended that “the laws are clear” and that “we’re simply stating, ‘Do not violate the law.’”
The Select Panel made 15 criminal referrals for its research of abortion providers and educational institutions across the country, including to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. To date, Balderas has not acted on the referral to his office.
An effort to apparently improve the University of New Mexico’s branding is not sitting well with many of the people who will be affected by it. A directive from UNM President Bob Frank orders a change to the domain names of the emails of more than 15,000 students, faculty and staff within the university’s Health Sciences Center by June 30. Specifically, Frank ordered the word “salud” dropped from any domain ending with “@salud.unm.edu.” Instead, all domains will end with “@unm.edu,” like much of the rest of the campus. HSC includes the university’s medical school, hospitals, nursing school and cancer center. The change comes just three months after UNM regents voted to eliminate the HSC board of directors.
News that the state Human Services Department is planning to cut between $26 million and $33.5 million through how much the state pays for Medicaid provider payment rates filled healthcare advocates with grief, if not surprise, this week. It’s how the state agency is saving the biggest cuts—which will affect Medicaid payment rates for doctors, hospitals and dentists—for New Mexico’s biggest hospital that’s causing the most controversy in some circles. By this July, the state plans on cutting Medicaid payments at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) to inpatient services by 8 percent and outpatient services by 5 percent. That’s bigger than the 5 percent inpatient and 3 percent outpatient Medicaid cuts that the rest of the hospitals in the state will see. Lorie MacIver, a UNMH nurse and president of District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, says the cuts will disproportionately hurt UNMH patients because the hospital is the only Level 1 trauma center in New Mexico equipped to treat the most serious injuries and health conditions.
A handful of doctor residents University of New Mexico hospital may have to find a new place to finish their residency. The university confirmed Friday that its Department of Dermatology lost its accreditation. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recently withdrew UNM’s dermatology department’s accreditation, effective June 30, according to the agency’s website. UNM’s website lists five doctors currently under the dermatology residency, three of whom won’t finish their residencies before the dermatology department’s accreditation expires. Billy Sparks is a spokesman for UNM’s Health Sciences Center, which includes the university’s School of Medicine.
A sudden overhaul in governance of the state’s largest public medical institution has left several people questioning the motivations behind the changes and its aftermath. One such skeptic is Mel Eaves, a now-former community member of the board of directors that made recommendations on the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. HSC operates the university’s medical school, nursing school, two hospitals and the cancer center. This piece also appears in the March 23 edition of the ABQ Free Press. To Eaves, the motivation for the overhaul stems from other entities wanting a piece of HSC’s $220 million sitting in reserves, earmarked in part for the construction of a new hospital to replace the campus’s current adult hospital, which was built in the 1950s.