New Mexico State Hospital
(formerly Las Vegas Medical Center)
(now) New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute
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Las Vegas, San Miguel County, New Mexico
The story of desecration at The State Hospital Patient Cemetery

Background for this page was based on Individual Burial Documentation from study, An Archaeological Investigation of Cemeteries and other Cultural Locations at Las Vegas Medical Center-Las Vegas, San Miguel County, New Mexico,  A study in support of the State Hospital Patent Cemetery Restoration Project, prepared for Las Vegas Medical Center Foundation, New Mexico State Historic Preservation Division, by Stephen Townsend and Kay Townsend, Submitted by Stephen Townsend, PI, Townsend Archaeological Consultants, State of New Mexico Blanket Archaeological Survey Permits, NM-02-088 and NM-03-088, NMCRIS Project/Activity 82623 May 31, 2003.

All comments and opinions herein are the webmaster's.

New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute provides services in four areas.
Las Vegas Medical Center

3795 Hot Springs Blvd.
P.O. Box 1388
Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701
(505) 454-2100

1--- As a state hospital, offering inpatient care to adult psychiatric patients.
2-- The adolescent program, treating adolescent male sex offenders who have a serious mental illness.
3-- A center for the Community Mental Health Program.
4-- A major nursing home care provider in for elderly and disabled residents.

This facility was established in 1889. They admitted their first patient in 1893 in a modest three story building. It was expanded because of the growing need for patient care. By 1935, the hospital was treating 750 patients. The term "mistreating", is more accurate as applied to treating mental patients during that era, because of the general medical ignorance about mental illness and disorders. Only recently, has mentally illness been considered a disease like any other disease. However, some people continue to hold ignorant prejudices about this class of illness.   

Three cemetery sections are on the Hospital facility: Cemetery A, Cemetery B, and Cemetery C. A nearby cemetery, not associated with the hospital, is the Mount Calvary Cemetery which is located 100 feet north of the the access road. The hospital burials historically had graves marked with metal or concrete. The hospital actually issued a death certificate of sorts during the years up to 1924. Other records can be found in the records of the Gonzales Funeral Home and the Johnson Mortuary of Las Vegas from circa 1960 to circa 1980. The last burial was in 1987. Most hospital deaths were not handled through the mortuaries. Hospital records are the key to compiling  a complete list of burials, based on deaths, so that a full accounting of all those buried and thus defiled by the disgraceful condition of the cemeteries.

The hospital should release the list of deaths in their facility. This would not violate the privacy of the deceased for the very reason that they are in fact deceased. It's impossible to violate a deceased's privacy.  Further, details about the patients illness is not required, nor wanted. We as a spiritual and intelligent people, value our ancestors. We remember and respect our ancestors by recording for eternity their date and place of their birth and death.