News report spurs probe of New Mexico hospital's COVID-19 screening

State and federal regulators are investigating claims that Albuquerque, N.M.-based Lovelace Women's Hospital is unfairly targeting Native American women through a COVID-19 screening policy, according to a joint report from New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica.

The state launched an investigation into the hospital after the publications released an investigative report June 13. Clinicians claimed the hospital encouraged them to screen all pregnant women who appeared to be Native American and told them to cross-reference their ZIP codes with those of known Native American reservations, which have some of the state's highest per capita COVID-19 infection rates.

State officials said CMS plans to refer its findings to the HHS Office for Civil Rights. 

Employees reported that Lovelace was trying to hide documents and discourage staff from speaking with state investigators about the screening policy, according to New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica.

As of June 19, Lovelace had not received an inspection summary of the state's findings, according to hospital spokesperson Whitney Marquez,who declined to comment on accusations that hospital leaders tried to obstruct the investigation.

The hospital continues to modify screening and testing protocols based on recommended guidelines as the country continues to learn more about this disease, Ms. Marquez told New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica.

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