Oklahoma children's hospital hires new leader after former CEO accused of employee mistreatment

The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, Okla., has a new leader following allegations that the former CEO mistreated female employees, The Oklahoman reported July 19.

The hospital announced July 1 that Albert Gray, who had served as the hospital's CEO since 1978, was elected executive chairman of the board and that Nico Gomez, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, was to begin serving as CEO.

Mr. Gomez joined the hospital in December 2019 after serving as president and CEO of Care Providers Oklahoma, a nursing home association. He also worked at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state Medicaid agency.

Before the leadership changes, several complaints were filed against Mr. Gray with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including allegations of mistreating female employees, according to The Oklahoman

The complaints — submitted by Katie Fry, the hospital's former vice president of patient support services, and Heather Walter, former foundation and corporate grant manager — accused Mr. Gray of referring to women in higher management as "the little girls," and of saying he would "only hire men from now on because all the women did was tell him to fix his hair and how to dress." Ms. Fry and Ms. Walter claimed he did, in fact, only hire men after making that statement.  

Mr. Gray told The Oklahoman the allegations had "no merit" and that Ms. Fry and Ms. Walter "recently withdrew these complaints through a negotiated resolution with the hospital."

Mr. Gray attributed the complaint to the hospital's decision to lay off 12 employees amid the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. 

Ms. Fry and Ms. Walter alleged in their complaints that they were fired in retaliation for reporting Mr. Gray's conduct and statements and for cooperating with an independent investigation.

The Oklahoman reported that half of the hospital's governing board resigned amid the tumult.

According to the newspaper, the Oklahoma Attorney General's office is also investigating the hospital regarding management of charitable contributions, and Mr. Gray said he's confident the office will find no financial improprieties.

Read the full report here


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