Doctor’s defense of nursing home poor

Michelle Grisham: Guest columnist

Regarding the article headlined, “Nursing home owner tells his side of story” published May 9:
It appears rumors have spread through the Buena Vista Nursing Home about the consequences to its residents if the facility is placed under state receivership, as recommended by the Aging and Long-Term Services Department’s ombudsman program.
The article describes Dr. Ali Ghaffari being approached by crying residents who fear that as a result of receivership, they will have to leave the facility.
In fact, the receivership process does not displace any residents of a facility and would only improve the care they are receiving.
In the receivership process, the Department of Health asks a court to allow the state to take over the operation of a facility.
This is an extreme step taken only in the worst instances of care, where the state feels residents’ health, safety and welfare are at immediate risk. Our recommendation for receivership reflects Gov. Bill Richardson’s zero-tolerance policy toward elder abuse and is taken very seriously.
If the state is granted receivership, it contracts out the actual management. Currently, the management company is Piñon Management, based in Colorado, and it has a strong record of managing long-term care facilities.
Piñon would hire new administration and financial management. Often, the direct caregivers that nursing home residents are most familiar with remain working at the facility.
Residents would remain in what is currently their home and will likely continue seeing the same caregivers. Additionally, and more importantly, care and safety would improve.
In response to Dr. Ghaffari’s claim that “it is impossible to know where everyone is all the time:”
It is his job to know. Families entrust a facility to continuously care for their loved ones; not sometimes, not occasionally, but always.
Also, there is no two-hour time limit on reporting to police that residents have left the facility. The law states clearly that the police should be contacted “immediately.”
I’m distressed that Dr. Ghaffari does not appear to be working to ease residents’ concerns that they might have to move. It is his job to assure they are well-cared for and secure, and the Aging and Long-Term Services Department believes he has failed in that job.

Michelle Lujan Grisham is secretary for the state’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department. Contact her at 1-800-432-2080.