By Mike Linn: CNJ News Editor
State officials plan to relocate residents of a Clovis nursing home within 30 days, claiming the health care facility poses health concerns for its occupants.
Wednesday’s decision to move all 19 residents of Buena Vista Nursing Home came after a recent barrage of heavy rainfall compounded existing problems with the facility’s roof, according to a press release from the New Mexico Department of Health.
The leaking roof, combined with the discovery of toxic black mold, gave state officials no options but to seek safer accommodations for the clients, according to the release.
“There is no way we can allow people to stay in a facility under these conditions,” Secretary of Health Patricia Montoya said in the release.
But an attorney for Buena Vista owner Dr. Ali Ghaffari and several workers at the facility say the state has overstepped its boundaries.
“It’s not fair for you to build your home and your career here and have the (state) take it away,” said Odessa Kanu, a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) who worked for Ghaffari and now works for Peak Medical Services, an agency hired by the state to run the nursing home. “No one here has complained; it’s the outsiders who have the problems.”
In addition to the client transfers, the state’s department of health voluntarily terminated the facility’s Medicaid Agreement, which means the facility will no longer be eligible for Medicaid payments, according to the release.
Peak officials said they will begin ushering residents to health care facilities in Clovis, Farwell and Portales today.
Ghaffari’s attorney Mike Bello said there is no toxic black mold at the home, but a less-dangerous fungus mold. As for the leaky roof, he said that could easily have been taken care of by maintenance personnel and certainly didn’t warrant an all-out evacuation of the home’s clients.
Bello said state officials did not inform him of their plan to move Buena Vista’s residents.
Michelle Card, a licensed practicing nurse at Buena Vista, said state officials came in Wednesday to tell residents they would be moved elsewhere within 30 days.
“Most of the people were angry they had to leave,” Card said. “Dr. Ghaffari came in, and we could see tears coming from his eyes.”
Rudy Apodaca, a CNA who worked for Ghaffari and now for Peak, said nothing is wrong with the facility — not now and not when the state took control.
Annette Ellison has lived at Buena Vista for seven years, and said she was relieved recently when Ghaffari said he would continue to be her doctor no matter what happened to the home.
She said Wednesday was disappointing.
“It’s been like my home, and to be uprooted all at once is kind of hard,” she said.
The state took over Buena Vista on May 21 after officials discovered poor building maintenance, tax liens against the facility and financial problems that negatively impacted proper client care, according to the release.
Due to the health and safety concerns, the state filed for an expedited hearing on receivership of the home. The hearing to decide permanent receivership is scheduled for July 25.