The Truth about Fort Bayard

Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Leadership at Ft. Bayard

Michelle Lujan Grisham released a new radio ad that sets the record straight and responds to false attacks being waged by her two opponents.


To learn the real facts, follow the timeline below.

When Michelle was Director of the State Agency on Aging, no one would listen or believe the thousands of complaints she reported. She personally went undercover at the Desert Heights home and it was closed. She tried to get the Department of Health, who had the authority to close or fine facilities, to act on many other nursing homes when their level of service showed the first signs of deterioration. As Secretary of Health, she finally had the authority to do something about poorly-run facilities, and took action at Ft. Bayard, and 10 other facilities, from 2004 – 2007.

The U.S. Department of Justice praised Michelle’s actions at Ft. Bayard: We “applaud the efforts and leadership” that Michelle Lujan Grisham took to improve care at the facility.


  • Late August 2004 – Michelle was appointed Secretary of Health. She inherited long-running problems at Ft. Bayard. She was not at fault; she made Ft. Bayard a top priority and took immediate responsibility for fixing the problems.
  • November 2004 – Fired Ft Bayard administrator, who did not hold an administrator’s license – arranged for shared administrator responsibility with other state facilities
  • December 2004 – Michelle called for public facilities to be held to the same standards as private facilities
  • Legislative Session Jan-Mar 2005 – Michelle lobbies legislation to address Ft Bayard, including a private management company and building new facility
  • March 2005 – Michelle begins public meetings with family and community members to discuss issues and public-private solution
  • April 2005 – U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified State of intent to investigate
  • Spring through Summer 2005 – Michelle essentially moved to Silver City to directly take responsibility for cleaning up Ft Bayard:
    • She obtained a Nursing Home Administrator License so she would have appropriate authority to direct operations.
    • She convened a special team to personally resolve problems and immediately issued a moratorium on accepting new residents until care could be improved.
    • All staff was re-trained and every resident’s medical record was reviewed to assure staff provided medical attention and appropriately managed medication needs.
  • July and October 2005 (DOJ site visits) – Michelle responded fully and swiftly to institute all necessary changes to operations, clinical care and discharge planning. Her level of response and cooperation was praised by the DOJ.
  • Nov 2005 – GEO Care signed contract to assume full management of Ft Bayard and to design and build a new facility
  • May 2006 – DOJ released its findings
  • May 2007 – DOJ and State finalized the Settlement Agreement
  • June 2007 – Michelle resigns as Secretary of Health to consider bid for Congress
  • 2010 – As a result of Michelle’s efforts, today Ft. Bayard has moved into a brand new building and received a 5-star rating.