Northern Minnesota Nursing Homes Charged with Abuse and Neglect

May 17, 2013

nursing-home_l.jpgElder abuse attorneys at Pintas & Mullins report that special investigators recently substantiated three cases of abuse and neglect in northern Minnesota nursing homes. Only one of the facilities is disputing the findings.

The first cited facility is the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely, where a disabled resident was neglected when an employee left her in her room with the door closed, lights off, and call light out of reach. Another Boundary Waters employee stated that she later found the resident stranded on the floor with a broken leg and wrist. The Minnesota Department of Health special investigator reported the incident in February 2013.

The neglectful employee had been previously disciplined for similar violations, and was fired after this latest incident. The disabled resident is now in better condition although the accident took a lot out of her, according to her primary caregiver.

After the incident, the Boundary Waters Care Center failed to take any corrective action, including retraining of staff on proper call-light accessibility and failing to conduct an audit of the call lights. The facility's administrator stated that it did investigate the incident, however, which led to the employee's dismissal.

About four months earlier, a considerably more malicious incident took place in Duluth, MN, two hours south of Ely. Investigators reported that abuse occurred at Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center when a nursing assistant aggressively restrained, slapped, and spit on a resident who was resisting a shower.

The report, dated late July 2012, noted that the resident was resisting the shower by kicking, spitting at, and hitting three staff members. One employee stated that the resident spit in the accused nursing assistant's face, and the woman spit back and slapped the resident in the mouth.

The nursing assistant denies this, saying that she only put a washcloth into the resident's mouth to stop her from spitting at the other employees. The other two staff members, however, verified the abusive behavior. The accused nursing assistant was suspended after the incident and eventually fired. The Minnesota Department of Health requested that Jensen Health take corrective action after the incident, updating the affected resident's care plan to include her right to refuse a shower.

The third report came from Hillcrest Terrace, which is about an hour West of Ely on the Iron Range. The report details an incident involving a resident found soaked in urine and unresponsive in his room. The report, dated March 13, 2013, also states that his room was very dirty and unkempt. Investigators found that the resident was neglected because the facility's employees, who were unlicensed, failed to notify the registered nurse on-duty that the resident was experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), and that the staff failed to adequately monitor the resident's blood-sugar levels.

The report went on to note that the resident has since received a new, cleaner room, and is happy with his new location. Hillcrest Terrace recently requested reconsideration of the maltreatment.

Nursing homes are entrusted with the enormous responsibility of fully protecting residents and ensuring their safety in every facet of their lives. Abuse and neglect can take many forms, some more overt than others. If you notice any sudden changes in your loved one's behaviors, health, mood, or wellbeing, it may be a red flag that abuse or neglect is occurring, and should never be ignored or dismissed.

Senior abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have decades of experience advocating on behalf of nursing home residents and their families. If you or someone close to you was victimized by nursing home staff, visitor, or another resident, you have important legal rights. Filing a lawsuit against the negligent nursing home or abusive parties is the fastest and most effective way to expose the abuse and ensure remedial action is immediately taken to protect the other residents.