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Local care center under fire for treatment of elder

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Red Rocks Care Center HAS history of violations

Nothing could have prepared a Gallup family for what they allegedly found a day after they left a 93-year-old loved one at the Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup.

Dorothy Kein-Monahan was admitted to Red Rocks, 3720 Church Rock Rd., on Sept. 12 after an August surgery at the Gallup Indian Medical Center to remove her gallbladder.

Serena Penaloza, Kein-Monahan’s granddaughter, said the family hoped the staff would help aid their grandmother in her recovery. But when they returned to the facility the following day, they allegedly found Kein-Monahan wearing clothes that neither fit nor belonged to her, and she was not fully dressed and properly cleaned.

And that was just the beginning of the concerns the family had about the facility. Data from U.S. News & World Report ranks the facility below average, and New Mexico ranks 49th – the bottom of the barrel – when it comes to nursing home deficiencies.

Amanda Penaloza, a teacher at Twin Lakes Elementary School who has cared for 93-year-old grandmother for the past year and a half, said she and family members were shocked to find their grandmother, just one day after dropping her off at Red Rocks, in pain and not dressed properly.

“It was really heartbreaking,” Amanda Penaloza said. “I’d never seen my grandmother look so uncomfortable.”

Amanda Penaloza said the family had Kein-Monahan transferred to Gallup Indian Medical Center on Sept. 13 after they reportedly found her in poor shape at Red Rocks. She stayed the night at GIMC, and was brought to her home in Gallup the following day.

During an interview at her home, Kein-Monahan told the Sun the facility “didn’t do nothing for me; I was just there. My doctor said they will help you, but they didn’t do it. Nothing.”

Serena Penaloza said she reached out to Red Rocks, a 102-bed for-profit facility, for answers. She said she called the care center and asked to speak to the person with the highest authority. She claims the man she spoke with, Jay, was dismissive of her grandmother’s story.

She said the man laughed at her and called her belligerent.

“He wouldn’t even listen to what my full experience of what our story was,” she  said. “You do not treat other human beings that way when they’re coming to you with a grievance.”

On Sept. 14, Serena Penaloza posted two videos on her Facebook page. In both of them, she addresses her friends, detailing her grandmother’s Red Rocks experience. As of Sept. 19, the videos had been viewed over 135,000 times and garnered more than 400 comments and 6,500 shares.

Among the hundreds of comments, several individuals claimed to have had elderly family members treated similarly at Red Rocks. Others claimed to have worked at the center.

A woman who said she was a former Red Rocks employee, a certified nursing assistant who worked there in other capacities, from 2001-11, told the Sun the primary reason for the neglect and abuse at the facility is a lack of nursing assistants on the floor.

“Lack of CNAs is the reason patients aren’t being cared for,” the source, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Sun in a Sept. 18 Facebook chat. “CNAs do [their] best for the residents. I know that for a fact [be]cause I have friends that still work there as CNAs; they hurt themselves, physically, emotionally and mentally for [their] patients but the company itself can’t get more help for them, it’s been like that since I worked there.”

New Mexico Department of Health, Division of Health Improvement, confirmed there were two recently completed health surveys for Red Rocks – one from Jan. 10 and the other from June 21 of this year.

“However, the survey has not been added to the website yet because the Survey department has not received a Plan of Correction from the facility yet,” DOH spokesman David Morgan stated in an email, adding later that as of Sept. 19, there were “no assignments pending for an onsite investigation by the survey team. All we have pending for them are self reports that the facility has reported reportable incidents and are submitting their own internal follow up investigation.”

According to data compiled from U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing homes in New Mexico are among the grimmest in the nation. Of 74 New Mexico nursing facilities, 38 had serious deficiencies, adding up to over $2.5 million in penalties.

U.S. News & World Report states on its website, as of 2016, Red Rocks rated below average in health inspections, nurse staffing and medical quality of care. Data from August 2016 alone shows that the facility had 12 health violations that year, significantly higher than the 7.3 U.S. average.

From 2014-16, Red Rocks paid three fines totaling $25,968 and was denied Medicare or Medicaid payments Oct. 5, 2016 and Oct. 3, 2015.

As of press time, Red Rocks Care Center did not return several calls requesting a response on the matter.

Meanwhile, Serena Penaloza began reaching out to both local and statewide news outlets in mid-September. Her hope is to spread awareness of the treatment her grandmother received and in turn spur families to keep a closer watch on relatives in facilities like Red Rocks.

“She’s safe, but she’s not going to forget what happened to her,” Serena Penaloza said. “My worries are for people who are there, and everywhere else [like it] on the reservation.”

By Cody Begaye & Mia Poris
Sun Correspondent & Editor