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Sage Hospital board fires management team

By Cindy Yurth
Special to the Times


Sage Memorial Hospital’s board of directors has fired the hospital’s executive management team, it announced in a press release last week.

No reason for the decision was given in the release, and the hospital’s public information officer said he could not comment beyond the release.

The terminations, effective Oct. 1, include CEO Christi El-Meligi, Chief Operating Officer Netrisha Delgai, Chief Financial Officer Michael Katigbak and controller Mark Seward.

Alden Joe was appointed interim CEO and Sharon Edison was appointed interim COO.

“Mr. Joe, Ms. Edison and the board of directors are working closely together to recruit and hire a new executive management team as soon as possible,” states the release, adding that no previous members of the hospital’s former health care management company, Razaghi Development Company, will be considered.

Some of the former management team were members of RDC before the hospital terminated its contract with the company in 2018 over allegations of fraud and embezzlement by the company’s CEO, Ahmad Razaghi.

A $30 million lawsuit brought by Sage against RDC was dismissed by a federal judge in April.

An Oct. 4 memo from the board to the hospital’s staff states that “this decision was not related in any way to the performance of your work, the operations of the hospital or any similar reasons,” adding, “This step was necessary because of reasons relating to executive-board relations only.”

The shake-up comes as the hospital is attempting to move forward with replacing its turn-of-the-century buildings with a 120,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility.

Last year, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez vetoed legislation renewing Sage’s contract with the Navajo Nation, citing the fact that Sage was still being audited for “questionable spending, unaccounted funds, the diversion of federal funds … and other issues stemming from the tenure of the previous CEO.”

In 2017, Sage settled a lawsuit it had brought against the U.S. Indian Health Service, which had pulled its PL 93-638 contract over the alleged financial irregularities, for $200 million. The IHS was ordered to reinstate its contract.

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