State hospital's top official retires

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By David Giuliani

Steve Martinez, interim administrator of the state hospital, is retiring after 27 years.

Martinezs last day at the hospital known formally as the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute is Monday.

State Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil named Troy Jones, current deputy administrator, as Martinezs replacement.

During his career at the hospital, Martinez has worked in a number of positions, including administrative budget analyst and deputy hospital administrator. He has been interim administrator for the last three years.

The Health Department credited Martinez with continuously championing the rights of patients and working to assure that both patients and staff were treated respectfully.

We know that he will value the additional time with his family; we know also that we will all miss his presence at the facility, Katrina Hotrum, deputy secretary of facilities for the state Health Department, said in a statement.

Martinez said in a statement that the department couldnt have picked a better replacement for him.

Troys heart is with this hospital and the employees and patients we serve, he said.

Jones started with the hospital 11 years ago as a clinical psychologist in the inpatient unit. Since then, hes served as director of the outpatient program and most recently, deputy hospital administrator for psychiatry services.

I want to thank Steve Martinez, who has consistently involved me in the day-to-day operations, Jones said in a statement. He has led with integrity and had made a difference in the lives of our patients and clients. I look forward to continuing the many projects currently in place.

Martinez made the news in early 2007 when he and then-Nursing Director Debra Johnson were placed on administrative leave for a couple of weeks for their protection. Officials reported that some threats had been made against them, stressing that the leave was in no way disciplinary.

Around the same time, employees circulated a petition expressing their frustration with management. Jones took over as interim administrator while Martinez was on leave.

Martinez has had a low public profile during his time as administrator. In fact, the Optic was never able to get an interview with him, with the hospital referring questions to a department spokesman in Santa Fe.

The hospital, which is Las Vegas biggest employer, provides long-term care, community-based and inpatient mental health services as well as mental health evaluations and treatment for people who have committed crimes and are not competent to stand trial.

Today, several building projects are under way:

Design work for the new Meadows long-term facility is completed and awaiting funding.

Forensics expansion is under way.

Long-range plan identifies future capital projects for the facility.