Welcome to The Monthly Memo

 April, 2016

The Arc of New Mexico Mission

Our Mission: The Arc New Mexico promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

www.arcnm.org

Twitter:Arc of NM@TheArcNM

Facebook: The Arc of New Mexico

Donate Now: https://www.arcnm.org/donate-online/

Randy Costales, Executive Director

On-Line Registration Now Open for

Summit on Social Equality &

Annual Arc Conference

This year's conference will be held June 24-25 at Hotel Albuquerque near Old Town.  The theme is, "Staying Healthy While Having Fun!" 

The event will feature a variety of sessions addressing topics such as the ABLE Act, how to understand behavior and effective responses, self-advocacy and self-determination, adaptafitness, networking through social dance and many others.  Friday night will feature a dinner, self-advocacy awards, dance and karaoke. Saturday will feature The Arc Awards Luncheon

The conference is a great opportunity learn, meet new people and catch up with old friends.  Register now at www.arcnm.org.

The Arc - Promoting the Rights of People with Disabilities

Ashley is a super hero. No one around has the energy and “go-get-em’” attitude that this woman displays. Ashley is a twenty-something resident of Albuquerque. She is super active and is always on the go.  She works part time at Texas Roadhouse, participates in Center for Creativity and Functions (CFC) Arts Program, does rhythm dance, Special Olympics, has been a member of a local acting troupe, attends local theater productions, local arts events and sports events.

 Ashley is a member of Calvary Church AND in the midst of all this she still finds time to hang out with her boyfriend who she has been together with for over a year.  Their dream is to one day get married.  Ashley loves to be around others and finds that any “down” time can be put to much better use doing something new. If you ask her to do something with you she is totally willing no matter what the activity is (Roller Derby, MMA sparring, you name it she wants to try it.)  She is a collector of game cards, comics and all things Spiderman (her favorite super hero).  

Ashley was recently in a production of “The Lion King” at CFC Arts.  She is pictured after “opening night” in her Nala costume that CFC participants created.

2016 Arc Awards Program

Don’t forget to take the opportunity to recognize individuals or groups who have made significant contributions to enhance the inclusion and recognition of people with disabilities in their communities.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, May 6, 2016.  Award winners will be honored at the Annual Summit/Arc Conference in June.

To make a nomination(s) go to arcnm.org or click on https://www.arcnm.org/award-nomination-form-2016/.

News from The Arc of San Juan County

Contributed by Melissa Firestone

In May we will be celebrating our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of “Arc Too – An Upscale Boutique”! The boutique has done better than we had imagined and we are so proud of it. I have attached some photos of the boutique and our wonderful employees who love working there.

The Arc has been involved with SELL, or the Supported Employment Local Leaders program, to advocate for the hiring of people with disabilities. This program, based out of U.N.M. invites local employers to attend the meetings to hear about the benefits of hiring our differently abled friends. The Arc has even made a video, through a local media agency, to bring awareness to the public about this issue. Please click on the link to watch the video when you get a chance. It’s awesome!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wVAzWjQ7E0

We are also working on being a blessing to the community through a “Store Voucher Program”. This program helps those members of our community who cannot afford clothing, blankets, shoes and possibly even furniture. They just have to fill out our voucher form and we can begin to help them get back on their feet. It’s truly been amazing to see the lives that are touched because of a small gift from the Arc.

Las Cruces Buddy Day a Huge Success!

Contributed by Kristine Williams

The Las Cruces Buddy Day was held on March 5, 2016 to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.  Over 500 people attended including 26 individuals with Down syndrome and 100 volunteers.  All five of our local high schools sent volunteers and we had over 200 signatures on our Spread the Word to End the Word poster. 

It was such a fantastic day.  We accomplished our goals which were to connect with families that might not have a support group and to involve and educate the community about Down syndrome.  We had so much positive feedback from our community.

We are grateful for all our sponsors! We couldn't have done this event without you.  We plan to have Buddy Day again in March 2017.

Industrial Science Hunts For Nursing Home Fraud in New Mexico Case

Ina Jaffe, National Public Radio - an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States of America.

One of the keys to providing good care in nursing homes is simply having enough staff. The federal government says about a quarter of all nursing home complaints can be traced back to low staffing levels. And studies have connected low staff levels to lousy treatment. The state of New Mexico connects it to fraud.

The state's Attorney General is suing a chain of nursing homes, alleging that the facilities were so severely under-staffed, they couldn't possibly have provided the care they charged for. Now New Mexico wants its money back.

Lino Lucero is "confidential witness #1" in the lawsuit. In 2007 he and his wife Linda made the tough decision to send Linda's mother, Polly Duran, to a nursing home. Alzheimer's continued to tighten its grip on Duran, and they'd done everything they could for her at home.

"It got to the point where it was making my wife sick trying to deal 24 hours a day with her," says Lucero.

So he and his wife brought his mother-in-law to a nursing home in Santa Fe called Casa Real. They visited frequently, sometimes daily. There were always appalling discoveries.

Lucero almost apologizes for describing the conditions there. "Not to be a distasteful person," he says, "but the smell and the stench... not only from her, but from the other residents that were there, was horrible and deplorable. You'd walk in and you'd wish you had a mask."

Linda Lucero frequently cleaned her mother up and changed her sheets. The Luceros also noticed that Duran was losing weight and growing frail. Even though the doctor had told the staff that Duran needed to have her food cut into bite-size pieces, they did not always do so. So sometimes, she didn't eat.

The last straw was when the Luceros got a call from a hospital in Santa Fe. The doctor on the phone said that Duran had just been admitted.

It turned out she'd broken her hip. Lucero says the physician told him that "it's severely broken and it looks like it's been broken for more than three or four days."

The Luceros never found out how Duran broke her hip or why it took the staff at Casa Real three days to do something about it. She never walked again and died several months later.

Her experience is the reason that Lino Lucero decided to become a witness in New Mexico's lawsuit against Cathedral Rock, the corporation that owned the nursing home then, and Preferred Care Partners Management Group, which owns it now.

"These are companies that profited and made hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue," about 80 percent of which came from the state of New Mexico in the form of Medicaid payments, says Hector Balderas, New Mexico's attorney general.

In addition to Casa Real, there are six more nursing homes owned by Preferred Care Partners Management Group that are targets of this suit. "We're trying to recover dollars back for the taxpayers of New Mexico," says Balderas. The state is also trying to recover funds on behalf of private-pay residents.

But Balderas says that, more than money, the lawsuit is about the elderly and disabled residents of nursing homes "who suffered unnecessarily, sitting there in their own feces, sitting there in urine, developing bed sores. And some of this lack of care even resulted in death."

So far, there are 31 confidential witnesses in this case — former nursing home employees as well as families like the Luceros. But what makes New Mexico's suit novel, isn't the personal accounts. It's the data the state gathered to support its argument.

State attorneys used time and motion studies – a concept borrowed from industrial engineering — that show how long it takes health care staffers to do individual tasks. They focused on activities considered "basic care," such as bathing, feeding, and turning residents so that they don't get bed sores.

The attorney general's office then compared those findings with the care required by the actual residents of the targeted nursing homes. The conclusion?  It was physically impossible for the number of people employed at these nursing homes to provide the care required by the residents. So when the nursing homes billed for that care, they were lying.

But defense attorney Deborah Mann argues that that formula "reinvents the wheel." She's representing Preferred Care Partners Management Group in the lawsuit.

There's already an established legal standard of care in New Mexico, says Mann. Its 2 ½ hours of nursing care per resident per day, on average.

"That's the standard that was published to the industry," says Mann. "That's the standard that the people who ran the nursing homes knew about. And to try to hold somebody in retrospect liable — for essentially lying — is unfair."

Balderas counters that simply following regulations is not enough.

"Those are minimal standards, just a basic floor. They should be doing everything they can to make sure that the health, safety and welfare of these residents is met," says Balderas, echoing the federal standards for nursing homes.

Deborah Mann also objects to the role of private attorneys in this lawsuit. The firm of Cohen Milstein based in Washington, D.C., approached Balderas' predecessor in the New Mexico Attorney General's office, Gary King, with the idea of filing a suit against nursing homes for insufficient staffing.

"We don't know how it turned into something against our clients," Mann says, calling the whole arrangement "inappropriate."

Balderas says that while he didn't originate the case, he decided to pursue it "because it ties directly to our mission in protecting vulnerable populations and families in New Mexico." Meanwhile, his office can rely on the resources of Cohen Milstein attorneys, paralegals, and investigators, who only see a big payday if the state wins the case.

Such collaborations are not uncommon. Private firms can bring more firepower to a case than government agencies. Critics call the arrangements "pay to play," noting the campaign contributions that firms like Cohen Milstein make to state attorneys general around the country. Public records suggest Balderas' campaign fund received $5,000 from Cohen Milstein, far from his largest contribution. In addition, individual Cohen Milstein attorneys donated several thousand dollars more.

Attorneys for the other defendant, Cathedral Rock, declined to comment to NPR. But that company previously settled federal civil and criminal complaints for negligence and fraud in its Missouri nursing homes, paying more than $1.6 million in fines. As for Preferred Care Partners Management Group, all but one of their nursing homes targeted in this suit have received bad grades on a federal site that rates nursing homes.

Now, years after Polly Duran's death, her son-in-law still wants the nursing home held accountable for the way it treated her.

It's amazing, he says, that you can put your trust in the nursing home to care for someone you love and then, through neglect and abuse, "their spirit is completely broken and lost."

The pain of witnessing that happen to Polly Duran, Lucero says, will stay with him for life.

Eight Ways You Can Give to The Arc

The Arc of New Mexico relies and depends on support from individuals, families and organizations to carry out our Mission.  There are several ways to can support The Arc:

1. You can either mail us a check or make an on-line donation at https://www.arcnm.org/donate-now/

2. In the Metro area donate your gently used clothing, shoes and household items.  For more information or to schedule a donation pick-up call 505-765-1975.

3. A memorial gift is a beautiful and lasting tribute for a loved one or to a family as an expression of sympathy.  Family and friends can be recognized with a gift in their honor.  This might be for a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, holiday, wedding, retirement, etc.

4. Amazon.com will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to The Arc of New Mexico whenever you shop on Amazon Smile: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/85-0167508

5. Make a United Way Contribution

6. Smith’s Reward Card – 1) Visit smithscommunityrewards.com, 2) Sign in to your Online Account, or create an account, 3) Find and select The Arc of New Mexico and click “Save”

7. Donate stocks or bonds.  For more information contact Randy Costales at rcostales@arcnm.org.

8. A bequest is a gift made to charity in your will or trust. One significant benefit of making a gift by bequest is that it allows you to continue to use the assets/property you may leave to charity during your life. Another benefit is that by making a bequest you are able to leave a lasting legacy for the work of The Arc.  Keep in mind that your gift can be for a specific amount, a percentage or some portion of the remainder (after family, relatives and friends have gotten their designated share).  For more information contact Randy Costales at rcostales@arcnm.org.

Thank you Donors for Your Support!

Thank you to our most recent donors: Roger Weinreich, Alan and Veronica Neuman, Van Nunley, Vicki Galindo, Carmen Garcia, Menicucci Insurance Agency, Sheehan and Sheehan Law Firm, and MGM LLC.

This month's memo sponsored by the: