State Rep. Wants Answers to Minnesota Nursing Home Investigation Delays

December 01, 2016 07:58 AM

Minnesota’s Department of Health has not investigated most maltreatment complaints under the time frame set by state law, according to records, leading a state lawmaker to demand answers.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reported earlier in November delays when it comes to the state investigating maltreatment complaints filed against health care facilities, including nursing homes in the state of Minnesota.


RELATED: INVESTIGATION: Minnesota Failing to Investigate Nursing Home Complaints on Time

"People should be upset that these are going months and months without even being addressed," said Rep. Joe Schomacker,(R-Luverne).

Minnesota's Vulnerable Adults Act says in part, "The lead investigative agency shall complete its final disposition within 60 calendar days."

But we found the law has no teeth, it allows the department to pick a new date and try to finish by then.

The state of Minnesota had 16,954 complaints filed by residents, families and health care facilities in one year, according to a March 2016 report to the Minnesota Legislature.

Over a five-year period, 60 percent to 84 percent of the Minnesota Health Department's maltreatment complaint investigations weren't completed under the 60-day window, according to records.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Eric Chaloux asked Assistant Health Commissioner Gil Acevedo if the number bothered the commissioner.

“It doesn't feel good to see these numbers are real actual people," Acevedo said.

At the time we spoke earlier this fall, he told us they are down 10 investigators and are evaluating how the department can be more efficient.

"Our staff will see something's are pretty heart breaking at times as they investigate," Acevedo said.

Schomaker , chairman of the Minnesota House Health and Human Services (HHS) Reform Committee,  said he will be expecting health officials this session to address their investigative shortfalls.

“It comes back on our responsibility to make sure it does get enforced, and the scrutiny they get these positions filled, and those inspections get done," Schomaker said.

After our story in early November, Schomacker called the health department wanting to know why investigator jobs aren't filled.

"The people that apply for the positions, the people they hire for those positions are later in their careers so they don't have long term plans," Schomacker described from his conversation with health officials.

“We’ve filled five of those investigator positions and added an additional staff member whose primary responsibility is to process the maltreatment investigative reports, said a DHS spokesman in an email. “Which should help improve the time in sending completed reports to complainants.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS assembled completed investigative reports from available data from the Minnesota Department of Health to create a map of substantiated, inconclusive, and unsubstantiated complaints for nursing homes in the metro area.


Eric Chaloux

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