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Home News Department of Health issues statement on the extreme case of abuse and neglect that resulted in the tragic death of a disabled client

Department of Health issues statement on the extreme case of abuse and neglect that resulted in the tragic death of a disabled client

SANTA FE – Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Patrick Allen issued a statement following the arrests of Angelita Chacon, Patricia Hurtado, and Luz Scott by New Mexico authorities in the horrendous case of abuse and neglect that resulted in the tragic death of an intellectually disabled client. 

“Many thanks to all of the law enforcement agencies for their due diligence and strong attention to this shocking case of abuse and neglect that we turned over to them,” said Patrick Allen, Secretary for DOH. “The arrest and the allegations levied against Angelita Chacon, Patricia Hurtado, and Luz Scott are unconscionable and constitute the worst breach of trust DOH has ever seen. We will continue to refer any other cases of abuse and neglect to law enforcement for investigation. As the governor stated earlier, ‘if you abuse or neglect those in your care, we are coming for you.’ Any form of abuse, harm or neglect is unacceptable and the rights and safety of the people we support and serve are our highest priorities.” 

Upon learning of this horrific case, DOH took immediate action and terminated agreements with the four providers involved: At Home Advocacy, Inc., Albuquerque; A New Vision Case Management, Corrales; Lynn Barbour, LLC, Albuquerque; Sylvester & Company, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. 

This shocking case prompted DOH to conduct and complete in-person wellness checks on all individuals being cared for under the state’s Developmental Disabilities Waiver (DD Waiver) programs to ensure they are in good health and being well cared for by providers.

State leadership and the DOH also immediately established what is now an ongoing independent, third-party investigation evaluating both the agency’s Developmental Disabilities Support Division and the Division of Health Improvement procedures to identify systemic flaws that allowed the alleged incidents to occur.

That independent investigation, conducted by German Burnette & Associates in partnership with Accenture, a company that specializes in Medicaid issues, will report its findings to the state and will be shared publicly when completed.

“The Department of Health will use every tool at our disposal to make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent future cases of abuse and neglect of our DD Waiver clients,” said Secretary Allen. “Persons with disabilities often rely on others for their day-to-day living. They literally entrust their caregivers with their lives. This vulnerable population has inherent difficulty advocating for itself, and are highly dependent on caregivers, often in the caregiver's own home. People with developmental and intellectual disabilities are people who deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and care. When their care is covered by one of the state’s Medicaid funded DD Waiver Programs everyone is accountable, and we must ensure their health and safety needs are met.”

People with intellectual disabilities may not always be able to communicate that something is not right with their caregivers. To prevent or stop potential caregiver maltreatment, the Special Needs Alliance outlines warning signs to look out for that may indicate a person with a disability is being neglected, abused or exploited: 

  • Changes in behavior, such as disliking places or activities that were fine before.
  • Emotional changes, especially seeming more anxious, sad or withdrawn.
  • Unexplained injuries or major health changes like losing a lot of weight.
  • Unexpected medication changes or overmedication.
  • Increased isolation from others.
  • Poor personal or home hygiene, like unwashed hair, dirty clothing or uncleaned home or laundry.
  • Unpaid bills or unexplained new credit cards or accounts.
  • Lack of appropriate medical care or treatment.
  • Sudden over-reliance on a caregiver who has no prior relationship to the individual. 

If you are concerned someone you love is being taken advantage of by a caregiver, there are several things you can do. This starts with knowing the warning signs of abuse or neglect and then asking lots of questions.  

  • Contact local police or law enforcement. 
  • Call the State’s Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Hotline at 1-800-445-6242, or file a report online
  • Make a report with the caregiver agency, group home or long-term care facility or other organization that helps oversee your loved one’s care.
  • Contact Disability Rights New Mexico.
  • Connect your loved one with a social or case worker or other community agencies that support people with disabilities or abuse and neglect survivors. 

People with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They also have every right to expect to feel safe when they’re assisted by caregivers.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Jodi McGinnis Porter at (Office) with your questions.

Versión en Español

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Departamento de Salud difunde un comunicado sobre el caso extremo de abuso y negligencia que provocó la trágica muerte de un cliente discapacitado