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Ganado senior home subject to committee’s scrutiny

WINDOW ROCK

Annie Wauneka Life Care Inc. was scrutinized by the Health, Education and Human Services committee during a July 14 meeting. The committee had received negative feedback, of which delegates did not elaborate.

But officials from both Navajo Nation Division of Social Services and the care center said it continues to fully operate, with no interruption or concerns.

The care center is a residential home for seniors in Ganado, and according to Roselyn Begay, senior programs and projects specialist for the social service division. She said the facility has 11 residents.

Begay reported to the committee, giving an update of the findings of a July 13 site visit to the center.

“Currently, the Annie Wauneka Life Center is in full operation without a break to services to clients,” said Begay. “The facility isn’t experiencing any challenges.

“The staff members exercise public health and safety precautionary measures and visitors are required to comply as well,” she said.

The report said the division and center entered a multi-year agreement from January 2019 to December 31, 2021, for 25 residents.

The center’s staff, except for one, is healthy and working. There is adequate personal protection equipment for staffers, residents and visitors.

Angela James, the center’s office manager, said a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and everyone went into quarantine. She noted all staff and residents tested negative, except for that one person.

“This is to reassure our facility is still in good standing and in operation,” said James. “There is no transfers and all our clients are in good health as of today.”

Alta Bluehouse, executive director of the center, emphasized that COVID-19 tests were given to staff and residents on several occasions.

She said everyone from clients to staff are healthy, but was surprised that complaints were made.

“I was quite surprised this came about,” said Bluehouse. “I would think the person that was concerned with us could’ve met with us and we could’ve discussed this at length, and we could’ve helped one another.

“I feel fortunate we were able to provide a good warm home, good food, and we love them,” she said. “We are doing the best we can.”

But committee member Edison Wauenka wasn’t buying it and insisted there had to be something wrong because the issues given to him about the center were concerning and he felt it was important enough to put this on the agenda.

“I kind of feel of bad about this because I took the lead on this one … and saying everything is OK,” said Wauneka. “I really don’t think everything is OK, because the concern was very pressing.”

He said he doesn’t know why anyone would call to make a complaint when there’s nothing wrong, so he requested that the committee tour the center.

“To the extent of what we were told to transfer some patients to Chinle nursing home,” said Wauneka, “this is a concern of mine.”

Committee member Paul Begay agreed with Wauneka on touring the facility and said as a committee they have learned what to look for in order to understand and rectify the issues.

“I believe this is a good way that we make sure that we, as a committee, need to understand what needs to be done,” said Begay. “The condition, the way the nursing home is.”

Bluehouse said she is concerned with what was said and will review the issues at hand. But during the meeting, the committee did not list the concerns or issues that they received.

The Navajo Times emailed Wauneka asking about the complaints but he hadn’t responded by press time.

It was noted by the division that Wayne Claw, CEO at Navajoland Nursing Home Inc., had complained about the center.

In an email to the Navajo Times, he said the nursing home has no authority over the center and one reason he reached out to the committee was because he received a call from some elderly clients the day after center went into lockdown due to COVID 19.

“We were told that Sage Memorial did the lockdown,” said Claw in the email. “I warned the committee they might be receiving calls from some client’s families, assuming NNHI will not be admitting any of clients.”

NNHI would need to make sure clients are free of COVID 19 before admitting any of the center’s clients, he said.

“This takes time and it also includes the 10 to 14 days quarantine on any new clients,” said Claw. “Again, NNHI was just sending a warning to Navajo Nation committees and Navajo Nation president’s office in case families contact them …. this always happens all the time … I hope this clears the wrong messages that’s been going around.”

The committee has not yet set a date to tour the Ganado facility.


About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti

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