Following in-person wellness checks this spring, the Department of Health said it made new efforts to make it easier to report alleged abuse, neglect and exploitation cases to the appropriate departments.
The New Mexico Department of Health and Adult Protective Services created a Central Intake Reporting system, which is discussed in the 2023 Department of Health Incident Management Bureau Annual Report.
The report also discusses statistics about the abuse, neglect and exploitation of those on the developmentally disabled waiver programs.
“In the wake of the tragic Mary Melero case, the New Mexico Department of Health has heeded this wake-up call, intensifying oversight efforts,” Health Department Secretary Patrick Allen said in a press release. “Our heightened vigilance has yielded significant results, uncovering additional instances of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, highlighting the importance of vigilance and accountability in safeguarding vulnerable individuals under our care.”
The report focused on those in developmentally disabled waiver programs such as the Medicaid Developmental Disabilities Waiver, the Mi Via Self-Directed Waiver, the Medically Fragile Waiver and the Supports Waiver.
Report findings included that of 777 reported cases of alleged abuse, neglect and exploitation in fiscal year 2023, 547 cases were determined to be abuse, neglect and exploitation cases. Most cases involved neglect and were people on the Medicaid DD waiver program, the report states.
The report showed that 57 percent of cases involved verbal abuse, 33 percent of cases involved physical abuse and 10 percent involved sexual abuse.
The Incident Management Bureau referred a total of 389 cases to other departments for further investigation, mostly to law enforcement, the report states.
The Incident Management Bureau receives about 60 cases each week alleging abuse, neglect or exploitation. In 2023, the IMB investigated 2,259 cases, which is up from the 2022 amount of 1,708 cases investigated.
The report also discussed how the departments involved are working to help people report incidents both online and through a hotline.
The Central Intake Reporting system operates a 24-hour hotline, reachable at (866)-654-3219, for reporting incidents of abuse, neglect, exploitation, suspicious injury, environmental hazards and deaths. People can also Report Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation online through the New Mexico Department of Health.