Don’t Mess With Laredo: Outrage Over CEO’s Remarks That He's Leaving City Because 'It's 97% Hispanic’

One of nation’s largest hospital healthcare service companies fired the interim CEO of one of its Texas-based hospital systems after he made racially charged remarks about Latinos during an employee meeting.

Community Health Systems, the parent company of Sparks Health System, quickly dismissed interim CEO Tim Schmidt this week after he uttered startling comments in front of about 125 hospital employees.

During a question-and-answer session, Schmidt was asked why he wanted to move the company from Laredo, Texas, to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“Have you ever been to Laredo, Texas?” said Schmidt, according to The City Wire, a local website that covers northern Arkansas. “It’s 97 percent Hispanic.”

Word quickly spread throughout the hospital system’s Latino employees – including one doctor who immediately expressed outrage.

Officials at Community Health Systems took no chances and announced on Thursday that they had let Schmidt go from his post at Sparks Health System. It is unclear if he will still remain an employee.

“Sparks Health System continues its search for a new CEO after the interim candidate for the position was taken out of consideration. The hospital continues to identify and evaluate qualified candidates,” a statement Sparks Health System sent to The City Wire noted.

“Sparks is a vital community asset, a trusted healthcare provider and a major employer. We look forward to identifying the experienced, dynamic, community-minded leader who will build on strengths of our medical staff and dedicated employees and lead our health system to continued success.”

Schmidt has worked in hospital administration for 20 years, holding CEO positions in Illinois, New Mexico and Texas. He was appointed interim CEO at Sparks in March.

Recent U.S. Census statistics shows that Laredo’s population is 95.6 percent Latino and that it is the third most populous city on the U.S.-Mexican border, besides San Diego and El Paso.

“Laredo continues to be a community on the rise,” notes the Laredo Chamber of Commerce website. “With four bustling international bridges, three modern hospitals, a constantly-evolving university and an expanding system of infrastructure, Laredo and Webb County provide a safe and promising environment for families and entrepreneurs alike.”

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