See correction note below

FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – Families who lost loved ones to the coronavirus are suing a New Mexico nursing home. They say more could’ve been done to protect them.

An attorney representing 20 families who had loved ones at the Life Care Center of Farmington says the facility downplayed the severity of the virus. Currently, there are 15 lawsuits filed with another five lawsuits pending. The families believe it was a deadly mistake.

“Initially the staff was instructed not to wear face masks because it scared the patients. The staff was also informed that, allowed to, or in some instances forced to, work with symptoms of COVID,” said Josh Conaway.

According to the lawsuit, nurses were also required to wear the same mask for days in a row without sterilization and to reuse their nursing gowns. The lawsuit also claims when the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the facility, that person was isolated in another part of the building, but Conaway says there was a problem with that too.

“They would have the nurses work the COVID unit one day, and then the same nurse may work in another unit the next day, which obviously spreads the disease around the facility,” he says.

Conaway says nearly 50% of the facility’s patients died from coronavirus. Conaway says for a facility that’s as well known as Life Care Center of Farmington, they should have had an infectious disease protocol in place.

KRQE News 13 tried to reach out to Life Care Center of Farmington for comment and they referred News 13 to their national office but no one ever responded from that national office. Conaway wants to be clear, he is not blaming any of the nurses at the facility in Farmington. He wants the corporation to take responsibility for the deaths of their patients.

Correction: There are currently 15 lawsuits filed while the attorney is representing 20 clients. The other five lawsuits are pending.