SANTA FE ― Aging & Long-Term Services Secretary Alice Liu McCoy has announced the appointment of Linnea Forsythe as New Mexico’s state long-term care ombudsman.
“A strong ombudsman program is critical to protecting the health, safety and rights of New Mexico’s most vulnerable population—residents of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and other long-term care facilities,” said McCoy, announcing Forsythe’s appointment during Older Americans Month.
“This department is establishing a high bar for the quality of care provided by nursing homes and all long-term care facilities in New Mexico. Linnea Forsythe has the skills, experience and talent to ensure that older New Mexicans and adults with disabilities who reside in these facilities have a voice—a powerful voice.”
Under the federal Older Americans Act, each state is required to have an ombudsman program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system. The strength of New Mexico’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program depends on its network of active community volunteers. The volunteer ombudsmen work directly with residents of long-term care facilities to resolve their daily concerns, identify systemic issues and make legislative and policy changes to improve residents’ quality of life and care.
Currently, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program has fewer than 50 volunteers.
“The department is committed to recruiting, training and deploying hundreds of new volunteer ombudsmen,” Deputy Secretary Sam Ojinaga said. “Our goal is to provide every resident of every long-term care facility access to the ombudsmen every single day. Linnea Forsythe’s extensive experience building community-based advocacy programs from the ground up will be critical to the success and effectiveness of the ombudsman program.”
Forsythe earned a Juris Doctorate from the Hastings College of the Law, University of California, a master of social welfare degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a bachelor of science degree from the University of California at Davis. As a social worker and lawyer, she has experience working with people living with physical and mental health disabilities, older adults caring for their foster grandchildren, and individuals and families living in poverty with social and legal issues—including healthcare and benefits access, intimate partner and family violence, consumer fraud and kinship care issues.
Under Forsythe’s leadership, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program will aggressively build a network of volunteers across the state of New Mexico to advocate for residents’ rights and best care practices.
The New Mexico Aging & Long-Term Services Ombudsman can be reached here.