Earlier today, we received an email from the office of New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas describing what he calls “preliminary findings” into his review of the operation of La Vida Llena. This release of information – which went to reporters across New Mexico at the same time as it was emailed to La Vida Llena – was done, according to the AG, to “prevent future risks of harm to LVL’s staff and residents.”
We absolutely agree with this goal – which is exactly what we would have told investigators from the Attorney General’s Office had they contacted members of the La Vida Llena management team. To date, they have not done so. Regardless, we look forward to that set of conversations when they happen.
In response to this letter, La Vida Llena released the following statement to the media, which we want to share with you verbatim:
It’s surprising that the New Mexico Attorney General has chosen to release incomplete findings of an investigation he describes as in progress – and to send those preliminary findings directly to the media before anyone at La Vida Llena had the opportunity to review the findings.
No members of La Vida Llena leadership have been interviewed by the AG’s investigators. When they do contact us, we will be fully cooperative, including detailing the comprehensive set of actions we’ve taken over the past month to follow the directives and orders issued by state and federal agencies. In fact, at present we are working in partnership and under the supervision of the New Mexico Department of Health, who have personnel on site at La Vida Llena helping us care for our residents.
We also will continue to be transparent about the finances of our non-profit, faith-based organization. In short, no money has ever been misused. We will continue to use every dollar we have at our disposal to accomplish our mission of serving seniors and improving their quality of life.
As of last night, 432 residents of La Vida Llena had tested negative for COVID-19. 16 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being cared for around-the-clock in an isolated area of our healthcare unit. Experienced caregivers – together with support, guidance and staffing assistance from the state Department of Health – are treating these residents, each of whom is of advanced age and with serious underlying health conditions.
At the same time, every lost life La Vida Llena, our residents and residents’ families have experienced as a result of this awful virus remains firmly in our hearts, our minds and our prayers. We will continue to do everything we can to protect the living– and to serve this at-risk even as we grieve the 10 fine human beings who have been lost during this unprecedented pandemic.
The Attorney Generals emailed preliminary findings include the following key points, culled from what he calls “32 interviews of staff, residents, contract workers, and family members of residents.” We do hope investigators will speak to more than a mere 4 percent of the 448 residents and 303 employees who currently comprise the La Vida Llena family.
- The AG suggests that LVL “has thus far failed to establish a safe, efficient, and reliable means of communicating with residents about COVID-19.” As each of you is likely aware, we have communicated dozens of messages like this over the past month, plus countless phone calls and conversations with residents. In fact, our log of these messages currently measures about 75 pages in length.
- The AG suggests that “the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) was either implicitly or explicitly discouraged; even when its usage was encouraged, it was unavailable.” As you are surely aware, all caregivers have been outfitted with sufficient PPE as part of a robust series of measures meant to keep residents and employees safe.
- The AG suggests that “LVL permitted both communal dining and health facilities to remain open after Governor Lujan Grisham issued the current State of Emergency.” These facilities have been closed for weeks now and they will remain closed until they can be safely reopened.
- The AG suggests that “LVL did not expeditiously notify medical providers of its residents’ diagnoses.” We believe we have followed the myriad directives issued by federal, state and local authorities. That remains one of our key commitments to each and every one of our residents and to the community – we will do everything in our power to combat this virus while keeping you all healthy and protected from harm.
We hope this clears up any questions you may have in the wake of this letter and the ensuing media reports. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call 505-291-3294.
Again, thank you for everything each of you has done to contribute to the safety of La Vida Llena in the wake of this pandemic. To our residents … thank you for your patience and understanding, your support and your strength in the face of an unsettling, frightening crisis. To our staff members … thank you for courage and your commitment to doing your jobs under adverse conditions. We know that better days are near. Until then, we continue to be inspired by each of you on a daily basis. You are in our prayers.