The family of an Albuquerque boy who was seeking treatment at the University of New Mexico Hospital says the staff put the boy in an unsafe environment. The boy even witnessed a hospital employee overdosing on drugs. Now, the family is suing.
“The patient sitter’s job is to protect these kids, to make sure they’re safe, to make sure they have companionship,” says Heather Hansen.
Roadrunner Law Firm Attorney, Heather Hansen, says her client was only 10-years old when he was staying at UNM Children’s Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit in May 2017. His overnight stay at the hospital required a patient care tech to watch over him. Hansen says Kenneth Walden, had that job. “Mr. Walden apparently went into our client’s hospital bathroom and engaged in some sort of illicit drug use,” she says.
According to the police report, a nurse went to check on the boy. That’s when she found Walden in the bathroom, having a seizure in the tub. Police also found concerning items in Walden’s backpack. “Mr. Walden came to work with a backpack that was filled with knives, handcuffs, drugs, and drug paraphernalia,” says Hansen.
Now, the boy’s family is suing, claiming UNM Hospital put him in a dangerous situation. “This incident sets a horrible example for a vulnerable kid,” Hansen says.
A drug test confirmed Walden had meth in his system during the time of the incident. A spokesperson for UNM Hospital refused an on-camera interview to talk about it. He would just say Walden left the hospital in June 2017, a month after the incident. He wouldn’t tell us about the circumstances of Walden leaving.
However, a letter from UNM Hospital that Hansen shared with us shows Walden’s supervisor was moving to fire him, after putting him on paid leave. “Just the fact that he was able to carry these items into a children’s room in and of itself is disturbing,” says Attorney Eva Blazejewski.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Walden for comment on this story, but he did not respond to our request. Even though a police report was filed for this incident, he was never criminally charged.