Desert Healthcare CEO suddenly dismissed

The board of Palm Springs, Calif.-based Desert Healthcare District & Foundation announced CEO Conrado Bárzaga, MD, left his role Sept. 25 and appointed Chris Christensen, chief administration officer, as interim CEO.

Dr. Bárzaga was named CEO in June 2019 after serving as president and CEO of the California-based Center for Oral Health. The hospital announced his departure a week after Dr. Bárzaga gave a presentation regarding Tenet Healthcare's proposed 30-year lease for the 387-bed Desert Regional Medical Center.

Lawmakers were surprised by Dr. Bárzaga's exit, including Raul Ruiz, MD, U.S. representative for the Coachella Valley district, who said he was "shocked and dismayed" about Dr. Bárzaga's "sudden dismissal," according to the Desert Sun.

"His drive to serve the underserved is inspirational. We have worked together tirelessly to improve the public's health, reduce health disparities, and improve access to affordable quality care for everyone, especially for those that have been left out for too long," Dr. Ruiz told the Desert Sun.

Both Dr. Ruiz and V. Manuel Perez, Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor, told the Desert Sun they hope the board reconsiders their decision to end Dr. Bárzaga's tenure with Desert Healthcare. The health system's board has a meeting Sept. 26, with the CEO transition on the agenda.

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