Two lawsuits filed against local nursing homes

Steve Garrison
The Bloomfield Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed earlier this month.

FARMINGTON – Two more wrongful death lawsuits were filed in recent weeks against local nursing homes.

The son of a former resident at the Life Care Center of Farmington, 1101 W. Murray Drive, claims in a lawsuit filed March 18 that his mother was provided negligent care at the nursing home, which contributed to her death in December 2013. The son, David Rhoden, alleges his mother, Jewel Blair, developed infections and pressure sores while at the facility. He also alleges Blair broke her neck during a fall at the facility.

A message left with a representative of the Life Care Center of Farmington seeking comment for this story was not returned Friday.

The Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 803 Hacienda Lane, is named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit for the third time since September.

Marcinda Benally filed a lawsuit March 11 against the nursing home alleging that her aunt, Fannie Mace, died in July 2014 as a proximate result of malnutrition, pressure sores and dehydration. Benally further alleges Mace suffered an ankle fracture on June 22, 2014, due to a fall that could have been prevented if Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation had provided proper staffing at its facility.

The two other lawsuits were filed against the Bloomfield nursing home in January and September.

Dawn Callen, administrator of the nursing home, declined to comment Friday.

Both lawsuits were filed by the Phoenix law firm Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. Wilkes & McHugh attorney Melanie Bossie said Thursday the firm is currently reviewing a half dozen more claims of negligence and abuse at the Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is owned by parent companies Preferred Care Inc. and Preferred Care Partners Management.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit against Preferred Care Partners Management in December 2014 alleging that inadequate staffing at the company's New Mexico nursing homes made it impossible to provide sufficient care.

Discovery is continuing in that lawsuit, according to court records. Attorneys for Preferred Care Partners Management did not respond Friday to a request for comment.

Bossie said Preferred Care Partners Management and Life Care Centers of America, both for-profit companies, cut costs to maximize profits.

"I've been doing this for 17 years," she said. "It's the same thing in every state."

Both nursing homes received overall above-average ratings on Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website.

A federal inspector noted four deficiencies at the Life Care Center of Farmington during a health inspection conducted on Sept. 3, but the level of harm for all four deficiencies was deemed minimal, and the facility overall received an above-average health rating. The Farmington nursing home also provided higher-than-average staffing at its facility, according to the report.

A federal inspector noted eight minimal deficiencies during a Sept. 4 visit to the Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility received an average health rating.

The official noted in the inspection report that a review of the nursing home's records revealed a physician was not notified that a diabetic resident of the facility had registered high glucose results, which could have impacted that resident's medical care. The facility also was reprimanded for issues related to the maintenance and distribution of resident medications.

Residents at Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation spent less time with registered nurses than the national average, according to the website, but spent more time than average with certified nursing assistants.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.