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Long-term care facility converts to COVID-19 treatment center

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Jennifer Brown-Shoman discusses the plan to move her 84-year-old mother, Janet Brown, and other residents from the Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center to other facilities. The long-term care facility in Albuquerque is converting temporarily into a facility providing care for COVID-19 patients. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

A long-term care facility in Albuquerque is temporarily converting into one that will house COVID-19 patients.

Some family members of residents currently staying at the Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in the Northeast Heights are unhappy about the decision, which will require the evacuation of their loved ones.

“I’m afraid I will not see my mother again alive,” said Jennifer Brown-Shoman, who was informed in a phone call Thursday. Her 84-year-old mother, Janet Brown, is one of the residents.

“They have not told me when or where my mother would be taken,” she said.

Another woman said that was also the case with her 102-year-old mother.

Canyon Transitional plans to discharge 54 people from the facility next week directly home, if their current health status permits, or will transfer patients to another facility where their care will be continued, according to a statement the company issued Friday.

The conversion is being made in consultation with state officials. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in her Thursday news conference that the long-term care sites being established would provide COVID-19 patients with “the highest quality care.”

Brown-Shoman said staff members at the facility told her there were currently no residents with the coronavirus at Canyon Transitional.

“It doesn’t make sense to take a clean facility and then infect it with COVID-19 patients,” Brown-Shoman said. ” … Take a facility that already has a couple of cases. Get all of the healthy people out, quarantine them for a couple of weeks.”

She feels moving residents like her mother will put them at risk “mentally and physically.”

“It’s been incredibly discombobulating for family members for them to be taken from the only environment that makes them comfortable and they are accustomed to,” Brown-Shoman said.

She and Janet Bridges, whose mother had been a resident at the facility before dying in October, said the facility had been on lockdown for the past few weeks. They said the residents have been secluded in their rooms and have had little contact with family members to prevent the spread of the virus.

Bridges labeled the move “a cruel decision.”

New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said the state recognized the concerns of families of current Canyon Transitional residents.

“We want them to know their loved ones are in good hands with our colleagues of the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department, with whom we will work to assure their elders will be transitioned to COVID-19-free facilities and that their health and safety will remain a top priority,” she said in a news release.

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