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New Mexico governor plans more oversight of boarding homes

July 30, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration is working on regulations to increase oversight of boarding homes for people with mental illnesses.

The administration plans to propose rules in coming weeks that include requiring the homes to be licensed and inspected, the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.

The state has about 100 boarding homes that are unregulated, the Democratic governor said. Most of the facilities are near Las Vegas, New Mexico, where the only state psychiatric hospital is located.

The regulations also aim to set standards for fire safety, staffing levels, crowding and bathroom facilities, Grisham said.

“There’s real risk — people die, people are abused, people go to the hospital,” Grisham said. “There can be some really nefarious, high-risk issues.”

A 2016 investigation by the newspaper uncovered squalid and crowded conditions and inadequate meals at some boarding homes.

Former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in 2017 vetoed legislation that would have called for the state Department of Health to develop boarding home rules on sanitation and safety standards.

Department spokesman David Morgan said the rules aim to ensure residents have “safe and supported” living conditions.

The increased oversight would require more funding and staffing, Grisham said. Money from fines and licensing fees could be directed toward the cost.

“I’m dedicated to getting it right, and my Cabinet is dedicated to getting it right,” she said.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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