A brand new legislative report paints a damning portrait of seven residential well being care services overseen by the New Mexico Division of Well being.
The report, launched Wednesday to the Legislative Finance Committee, says an absence of oversight has led to power points that put residents’ well being and lives in danger.
The issues cited on the services — the Fort Bayard Medical Heart in Grant County, the Los Lunas Group Program, the New Mexico Behavioral Well being Institute in Las Vegas, the New Mexico Rehabilitation Heart in Roswell, the New Mexico State Veterans’ House in Reality or Penalties, and the Sequoyah Adolescent Therapy Heart and Turquoise Lodge Hospital, each in Albuquerque — embrace staffing shortages, structural deficiencies and poor monetary administration practices.
The report notes particularly issues on the veterans house, the place a COVID-19 outbreak took 28 lives between October and December, deaths that may have been prevented with higher oversight.
Primarily based on knowledge from the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Providers, the veterans house acquired 60 citations for well being and security deficiencies between 2015 and 2020, which led to greater than $180 million in federal penalties.
Lawmakers on the committee used robust phrases in response to the information.
“This can be a scathing report,” mentioned Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque.
“Surprising and deeply saddening,” mentioned Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces.
Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, mentioned of the scenario on the veterans house, “It’s not solely unacceptable however unconscionable.”
The sobering legislative examine comes as New Mexico continues to slowly emerge from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which exacerbated issues on the state services.
The report additionally comes as Dr. David Scrase, the state’s human companies secretary, steps in because the interim secretary of the Division of Well being, changing Dr. Tracie Collins, who lately resigned from the publish after not fairly 10 months on the job.
Scrase, who has been overseeing each businesses for lower than per week, mentioned he agrees with the report’s findings. The report will function a suggestion to create a long-term plan to deal with the issues and proper the system, he added.
The duty may very well be troublesome, Scrase indicated as he advised the committee, “My foremost takeaway from studying this report, simply to be actually frank, is these issues have been occurring for 20 years.”
All advised, the seven services have 937 affected person beds and make use of over 1,400 folks. Based on the report, the common day by day use of these beds is about 560.
Among the many report’s key findings:
- The Division of Well being has no long-term plan for the residential services, affecting its capacity to reply to deficiencies and affected person wants.
- A few of these services are underutilized. The state spent $41 million to maintain unoccupied beds open in fiscal yr 2020.
- A number of unbiased critiques of the State Veterans’ House discovered a failure amongst workers members to comply with COVID-19-safe practices, similar to utilizing correct private protecting gear.
- Inconsistent or overtaxed management within the division’s services division over the previous 5 years — together with excessive director turnover on the veterans house — has aggravated the issues.
The veteran house’s earlier director, Juliet Sullivan, was positioned on administrative depart in December following an investigation into whether or not the power was following COVID-19-safe practices. George Morgan, the present director of the Workplace of Amenities Administration, is appearing as interim director of the house.
A number of lawmakers mentioned they had been involved Scrase will quickly turn out to be exhausted operating two businesses.
“I hope we do not burn you out,” Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, advised Scrase, whereas Maestas urged Scrase “get some relaxation.”
Amongst different measures, the report recommends the Legislature create a deputy secretary place within the Division of Well being to supervise services, set up an unbiased governing board to carry the services division accountable and fund a brand new state veterans house.
Development for a brand new facility may value as much as $80 million, the legislative report says.
The house in Reality or Penalties opened within the mid-Eighties and is housed in a Thirties Works Progress Administration constructing that one lawmaker referred to as “a multitude.”
Scrase mentioned the report was painful for him and his workers members to learn. However, he mentioned, “We do personal it. We do personal the necessity to deal with this.”
He mentioned he hopes to have the “skeleton” of a long-term plan to deal with the issues inside 100 days.