Pima’s nursing department adapts after dean resigns

By DAVID J. DEL GRANDE

Pima Community College’s dean of nursing, Marty Mayhew, resigned from her position Jan. 28 following the completion of an independent investigation into claims of her misconduct.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 449, which represents 140 Pima employees, filed an anonymous complaint of no-confidence against Mayhew on Sept. 24, 2013.

According to the official statement filed by AFSCME, Mayhew, “consistently creates a hostile work environment in the programs she oversees, and tried repeatedly to solicit prescription painkillers from subordinates.”

In November 2013, Mayhew explained any of the choices she needed to make as dean of the department were thoughtfully made with intentions of bettering the curriculum.

“Sometimes the decisions I make will make some people unhappy, but they’re the best decisions for the program,” Mayhew said.

On Jan. 29, PCC chancellor Lee Lambert wrote in an email to employees that the results of the investigation conducted by Gust Rosenfeld, Pima’s hired legal firm, were submitted to the Arizona State Board of Nursing for review.

“As you might know, serious allegations were made involving personnel in the nursing program,” Lambert said. “The college completed its own comprehensive investigation and an Arizona State Nursing Board review is taking place.”

The Arizona State Board of Nursing was contacted regarding their review of the investigation, but did not respond for comment.

Chancellor Lambert said that Brian Stewart, an academic dean from PCC’s Desert Vista Campus, was asked to take over the duties of the nursing department on an interim basis.

“Brian is an RN and MSN who has done great work with our Center for Training and Development,” Lambert said.

Stewart wrote via email he felt it unfortunate Mayhew resigned, but said he is qualified for the position and happy to contribute to the strength of the department.

“I was initially shocked and sad to hear that Marty was leaving Pima,” Stewart said. “Additionally, the transition of a dean or any employee with whom you have worked with for years is difficult for all of us.”

Lambert also said in the email that Nancy Peasley, Pima’s nursing program laboratory specialist, had been placed on administrative leave.

One PCC faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, said regardless of the daunting issues that Pima currently faces, they were disappointed and confused when reading the specifics contained in Lambert’s email.

The employee applauded the progress Lambert has continued to affect, but felt the email was unfairly worded in the name of transparency.

C.J. Karamargin, Pima’s vice chancellor of public information and federal government relations, said in a phone interview that due to the esteem PCC’s nursing department is held, it was the college’s responsibility to disclose information regarding changes in faculty.

“Our nursing program is a highly ranked program,” Karamargin said. “So when changes happen, the students, our partners and our community, both internal and external, deserve to know about it.”

Also in November 2013, Mayhew asserted Pima’s nursing department was striving to surpass the college’s exceptional educational model, despite the multiple ongoing investigations and contrary to the unfavorable publicity in the media.

“I really want to emphasize how despite the negative press that the program has received, our program is still strong as ever,” Mayhew said. “The curriculum is sound, and like I said we’re making some revisions, but we’re making the revisions to tailor it to strengthen our weaknesses.” Mayhew was not available for comment following her resignation.

During a Feb. 7 Faculty Senate meeting, Lambert was asked how much money Pima has spent on its multiple investigations. Lambert said the total cost was unknown, and that it was unfortunate the investigations were occurring, but he assured the crowd that Pima was moving beyond its “culture of fear” and everyone needed to display model behavior.

“There’s usually a preceding event that occurs before someone is no longer an employee of Pima,” Lambert said during the meeting.

“I want folks to know it’s not just happening out-of-the-blue. And our tax-payers have invested in us, and they expect a level of professionalism that isn’t always the case in the private sector,” he said.

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