MDH Clears Backlog of Senior Maltreatment Cases, Promises Improvement

August 08, 2018 07:00 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health is apologizing for taking so long to review thousands of cases of possible maltreatment of older and vulnerable adults. 

Recently, the state cleared the backlog of more than 3,000 cases from 2017.

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Typically, it should take the state 60 days to review these cases, but it got so bad, it was taking 140 days.

RELATED: State Backlog of Elder Abuse and Maltreatment Complaints Almost Cleared

Now the Department of Health feels they're making strides despite the fact that reports of neglect or maltreatment aren't going away.

On May 27 at the EagleCrest Senior Housing facility in Roseville, staff responded to a client's room and found the person dead.

"The facility was responsible for the neglect here," said Gil Acevedo, assistant commissioner for the Health Systems Bureau at the Minnesota Department of Health.

A report from MDH shows "the resident was put in a bed that was not installed properly," "caused the client to fall to the ground" and when two staffers found the client they "hesitated to call 911 for up to 15 minutes, did not check for a pulse or perform CPR."

"It was an unfortunate situation where someone died, and there were things that were just not followed through," Acevedo said. 

Acevedo said they completed the investigation in this case in a little more than 30 days giving the family answers a lot sooner than they had been.

RELATED: MDH: Assisted Living Facility Neglected Woman Who Died of Hypothermia After Wandering Away 

"Now what we're doing is we're turning the cases around a lot faster," Acevedo said. 

Earlier this year, the Department of Health had 2,300 cases they hadn't even looked at, and about 800 more that were assigned but not closed. Simply put, reports coming in outpaced the state's ability to respond. 

"The Department of Health truly, truly is sorry for getting ourselves into this situation in the first place," Acevedo said. 

To fix this, MDH started using a new electronic system for investigating complaints instead of relying on paper documents. Now they're closing cases in an average of 58 days. 

RELATED: MDH: Northfield Facility Neglected Woman Who Died from 2nd Fall in 2 Weeks

"Families and victims deserve that timely investigation," said Amanda Vickstrom, executive director of the nonprofit Minnesota Elder Justice Center. 

Vickstrom applauds the state, but said there are still 400 reported cases every week, and while they don't all result in neglect, she said it's still far too many. 

"The work is not done and there is legislative changes that need to happen to protect consumers and families and victims in both residential care settings, or licensed care facilities and also in home," Vickstrom said. 

RELATED: Police Report Reveals More about 'Neglect' Death of 63-Year-Old at Northfield Facility

MDH says they plan to work with the state legislature for policy changes that will lead to better education and interactions with these facilities.

EagleCrest provided this statement:

"EagleCrest has received the report of the Minnesota Department of Health with regards to the injury and death of a resident in May 2018. All of us at EagleCrest extend our prayers and sympathies to the family for their loss. We acknowledge the state report and will not appeal its findings.

"The health and safety of residents is our highest priority even as we honor their freedom of choice. In assisted living, residents have the right to provide their own furnishings, beds and assistive equipment if they so wish. In light of this incident, we now offer to provide and install devices that meet FDA standards and guidelines at no charge to residents. We are also educating residents and families to promote choices that uphold the highest level of safety possible.

"We worked closely with local authorities to investigate this incident and always examine such unexpected incidents fully so we can better learn how to identify and avoid any similar risks in the future.  Since this incident, licensed nursing staff  have been retrained on emergency response protocols, including CPR policy and procedures. 

"The EagleCrest management regularly reviews and reinforces procedures and practices along with the diligence required to meet resident needs. We routinely examine and replace equipment as well as review safety and care procedures with all team members directly involved with caregiving. Beyond this incident, we have not had an incident with injury related to a bed or bed handles at EagleCrest. 

"With these practices in place, we have every confidence that the EagleCrest staff will continue its strong tradition of quality care and service to our residents."

If you or a senior you know is experiencing maltreatment, visit Elder Justice Minnesota's website.

To research care facilities before selecting one, visit the Minnesota Nursing Home Report Card site.

Credits

Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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