Acoma Pueblo sues feds over hospital closure

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A New Mexico pueblo is suing the federal government, saying their decision to close a hospital has cost patients’ lives.

In November, the Indian Health Service suspended almost all services at the Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Hospital, citing funding issues. That included emergency services and in-patient care.

Pueblo officials say the lack of services was directly responsible for the death of at least one COVID-19 patient, who died waiting for emergency responders form a neighboring community. The pueblo government says the IHS broke federal law by failing to give a year’s notice before closing the hospital.

Pueblo Governor Brian Vallo says his tribe’s pleas to keep those services active have fallen on deaf ears. In their lawsuit, Acoma Pueblo is asking a federal judge to overturn the Indian Health Service’s decision. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has also written a letter to President Biden, calling the decision to close the hospital, “absolutely devastating during a pandemic.”

The agency argues it hasn’t violated the law.

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