Families Share Stories of Senior Care Abuse, Beg Lawmakers for Action

February 22, 2018 03:44 PM

More than 20 people testified before the Minnesota Senate's Committee on Aging and Long Term Care Policy Wednesday morning.

Each sharing a personal story, alleging major failures in the care of their aging loved ones.


Some stories, like Maureen Switzer's, ended in the ultimate loss.

RELATED: Senior Care Advocates Call for Changes at Senate Hearing

"My husband's name was Fred Switzer," she said as she held back her tears. "He was a W.W. II veteran."

Nearly every seat in the room was filled, but it got quiet as Switzer shared how her husband's declining health forced her to seek help she said failed her family in the end.

RELATED: Legislators to Address Reported Lapses in Oversight of State's Senior Care Facilities

"He pivoted a complete 180 degrees," said Switzer, explaining how she said staff at her husband's facility used his lift incorrectly.

"Came down on his head and broke his neck. He died 11 days later."

Switzer's experience wasn't the only trauma families shared as they begged lawmakers for further oversight when it comes to the state's senior care facilities.

"They dropped her and they broke her femur in half," said Irene McCormick, describing what she said was her mother's troubling experience in assisted living.

RELATED: Minnesota Health Commissioner Exits After Senior Care Lapses

"Mom told us she had been beat up," said Deb Lloyd of a provider who allegedly lost her temper while working an overnight shift alone.

"The emergency room had to staple her head to close the wound," said Robin Roberts, another child testifying on behalf of her mother's experience in long term care.

RELATED: State Rep. Wants Answers to Minnesota Nursing Home Investigation Delays

Such stories aren't shocking to the dozens of families who traveled across the state to share their own.

"It's apparent we do have a failing state system here," Committee chair Sen. Karin Housley said.

The state currently receives an average of 58 maltreatment reports every day, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

"I flipped on the light switch and, to my horror, she was lying there lifeless in her lift chair," said Deb Singer, who said she was on a routine visit to see her mother when she discovered she had been dead for days upon her arrival.

At this stage, lawmakers are just starting to take it all in - overwhelmed by the work ahead of them.

"I asked the investigator at the Department of Health that worked on Fred's case how they could prevent a recurrence," Switzer said. "The answer was dead silence."

"Investigating the wrong facility, reports going uninvestigated, family members not getting any answers, that we are going to be addressing," Housley said.

After the hearing, Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters that although the Department of Health is partially to blame, the real responsibility falls to each and every one of the care providers in the state's facilities. He said they need to fix the problems, stop breaking state laws and follow moral codes.

Care providers take their turn next week when they are scheduled to testify before lawmakers regarding what they've done to change the problems identified in their facilities.


Katherine Johnson

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