Family says rural NM nursing home is “forgotten” in COVID vaccination efforts

Coronavirus New Mexico

CLAYTON, N.M. (KRQE) – When it comes to the COVID vaccine, are people in rural parts of our state being ignored? At least one family thinks so. Family members said they feel like residents of the Clayton Nursing Home in northeastern New Mexico have been left behind.

Nancy Clute can’t stand to see another family member die from COVID 19. “We lost our brother in September from this, and we don’t want to lose our mom,” Clute said.

Clute’s mom, 89-year-old Martha Jean Carter, is a resident of the Clayton Nursing Home in Union County suffering from dementia. “She has no idea where she is,” Clute said. “She has no idea why we don’t come.”

Clute and her sister, Mary Riddlespurger, both live in Amarillo. They haven’t seen their mom since the summer due to COVID restrictions. Riddlespurger said she is on bi-weekly Zoom meetings with nursing home staff, and the topic of when residents will receive vaccines has faded. “At first, they were saying that we would hear this week, and then next week, and now they don’t even mention it,” Riddlespurger said. “They don’t know,” Clute added. “No one is telling them anything.”

The sisters have been following New Mexico’s vaccine distribution updates closely wondering why their mother’s nursing home has not received the vaccine since long-term care facility residents are among the state’s first priority for vaccinations. “If the governor is going to say this is her priority, then make it a priority,” Clute said.

Clute said she called the governor’s office Tuesday and said the New Mexico Department of Health failed to provide answers on where her mother’s nursing home falls in line for the vaccine. “I called the health number first, and that is 30 minutes of my life I will never get back because it is a waste of time,” Clute said. “Then, I called the governor’s office, and the girl that answered the phone said that they don’t take care of that.”

It wasn’t until she told the nursing home staff she contacted KRQE News 13, that she got any answers during our interview Wednesday afternoon. “I just got an email from one of the girls at the nursing home, and she said this afternoon, they were notified that they are getting the vaccine,” Clute said.

Clayton’s first vaccine clinic is now scheduled for next Friday. Clute said while this is welcome news, it should have come a lot sooner. “Get it fixed,” Clute said. “There is no excuse for this.”

KRQE News 13 asked the Department of Health why it took so long for these women to get answers. We also asked how many of the state’s nursing homes have started vaccinations and how many are left to go. NMDOH said our questions were better suited for the Aging and Long Term Services Department, which said that all long-term care facilities are scheduled to have their first dose clinics by next Friday. KRQE News 13 also asked why the state is moving into the next phase of vaccinations when people in the first still haven’t gotten theirs. The state insists this is the most efficient way to distribute the vaccine.

The Clayton Nursing Home is run by Genesis HealthCare, who released the following statement:

Vaccination is the critical third leg of the stool, along with personal protective equipment and testing, in stemming COVID-19 spread in nursing homes and protecting residents and healthcare workers. This is unquestionably the biggest vaccination effort ever undertaken. The vaccine will help protect both staff and the vulnerable patients and residents they care for and prevent further tragedies.

CVS is our chosen partner through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care program. While we have no control over and do not set the dates for vaccine clinics, we have been requesting for weeks that CVS set clinic dates for six of our affiliated centers in New Mexico. All of our other affiliated centers in New Mexico have already had their first or are scheduled for clinics. With that said, we reached out to the New Mexico Department of Health who quickly intervened and scheduled vaccine clinics with local pharmacies for all six centers, including Clayton Nursing and Rehabilitation. I am pleased to report that the State informed us today that Clayton’s first vaccine clinic is scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2021 with Albertsons Pharmacy. After the first clinic, they will return four weeks later to administer the second booster shots for those who received the vaccine in round one and will also vaccinate anyone not included in round one. They will then return for a third time, four weeks after round two, to administer the final booster shots. 

We would like to thank the New Mexico Department of Health for their support in helping to protect our patients, residents and staff members.

Dr. Richard Feifer, Chief Medical Officer

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