AG Lawsuit against Nursing Home Companies Involving Deplorable Conditions Moves Forward
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2016
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
Santa Fe, NM- Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that on June 6, 2016, the First Judicial District Court entered an order sustaining the Office of the Attorney General’s case against the owners and operators of a New Mexico nursing home chain: Preferred Care and Cathedral Rock. Defendants asked the court to dismiss the Office of the Attorney General’s complaint, challenging the office’s authority to investigate their conduct and attacking the complaint as insufficiently specific. The case is set for trial on April 16, 2018. “Many vulnerable New Mexicans suffered horrifically, some even losing their lives,” said Attorney General Balderas. “Our office will continue to fight for better care for New Mexicans and against corporations who place profits over people.” The Office of the Attorney General filed suit against Preferred Healthcare and Cathedral Rock in December 2014 after receiving complaints about the care provided in their New Mexico nursing homes, interviewing former employees and resident families, and reviewing New Mexico regulatory records. An amended complaint was filed in April 2015 after the state’s initial complaint and brought forward new witnesses. The complaint details, over 134 pages, a pattern of omitting basic care services on a regular basis at seven New Mexico nursing homes that had an average daily census of more than 550 residents during the period covered by the complaint. The Office of the Attorney General alleges that defendants: • Failed to regularly provide toileting, incontinence care, and basic hygiene care, leaving dependent residents in dirty diapers, dirty clothes, and dirty beds for hours at a time. • Failed to timely respond to call lights rung by residents. Residents were left to soil themselves while waiting for assistance; others fell while attempting to walk to the bathroom unaided. • Failed to re-position bed-bound and immobile residents; many residents remained in the same position for hours at a time, which can and sometimes did result in painful, infection-prone pressure sores. • Failed to assist dependent residents with meals. Without help, some residents were unable to eat or drink in the time allotted, and some of them suffered weight loss and dehydration. Today, Judge Sarah Singleton entered an order denying the nursing homes’ motions to dismiss. As the Office of the Attorney General has consistently maintained, the office has a mandate to investigate Medicaid fraud and that authority applies to nursing homes as well as other health care service providers, even though they are independently regulated and licensed by the Department of Health. Moreover, the detailed allegations of the complaint provide any reader with details of defendants’ staffing levels, patient population, and numerous specific examples of care omitted and the effects of omitted care on vulnerable nursing home residents and their families. The Attorney General filed this case to enforce state laws barring fraud against consumers and the government, which these nursing home chains violated by promising and taking payment for care that was not provided, and could not have been provided given their pattern of understaffing.
# # #