GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico hospital is under siege Friday in one of the state’s biggest coronavirus hot spots. Healthcare workers in McKinley County said they are struggling in an environment that is unsafe for workers and patients.

State Senator George Muñoz said the hospital recently lost its only pulmonologist, who monitors people on ventilators. Everyone requiring that care was flown out. More workers said they are on their way out too as they are overworked and understaffed.

Nurses and doctors are the frontline workers fighting COVID-19. “That is who we take care of, our community,” one healthcare worker said.

In hard-hit McKinley County, Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital is filled with Coronavirus patients. However, the staff said they are understaffed and overworked. “It has finally come to ahead, and we are unable to do anything but stand here and let everybody know that it has to stop,” one healthcare worker said.

Friday, workers gathered to publicly accuse the hospital’s CEO, David Canejo, of gross mismanagement calling on him to resign. “We do not have the tools we need to meet a level of care that your family members deserve,” one healthcare worker said. “The person in the way of providing those tools for us is David Canejo.” They said his decisions have created an unsafe environment and severe understaffing.

One worker alleges when they started getting their first COVID-19 patients, and it was clear to them the county would be hit hard, the hospital abruptly ended the contracts of 17 nurses who left the facility in late March. State Senator George Muñoz said those left behind are working extreme hours with no breaks.

As a result, one doctor has already left, and seven others are threatening to resign. “I can’t let that happen,” Muñoz said. “If we don’t have those seven doctors, our hospital will close and every patient will be flown out of Gallup.”

Muñoz is requesting the governor send more medical staff to Gallup. He is worried if the issue is not resolved, people won’t get the care they need in one of the hardest-hit parts of the state.

Munoz and the healthcare workers are also calling on people to call their state representatives to voice concerns about what is happening.

News 13 reached out to the hospital about the allegations. The hospital responded with the following statement:

“Our focus remains firmly on providing the very best care to our community and most especially patients battling COVID-19. Our dedicated staff of professional caregivers is working around the clock as a team to care for members of our community.”

Ina Burmeister, Rehoboth McKinley Development Director.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resources