When the ambulance crew members arrived at the assisted-living facility in Chisholm, Minn., they entered a room so foul with the smell of urine that their eyes watered. Inside, the furniture was filthy and ripped, and black mold festered on a table. Old cans of food were strewn about, and the bed had no linens.
Sitting in a recliner amid the filth was a resident with developmental disabilities and mental illness — unconscious and suffering from critically low blood sugar due to diabetes and a urinary tract infection. He was barely alive. The crew stabilized him and rushed him to a nearby hospital, and he is now recovering from an undetermined period of neglect documented in a report by a state investigator.
The report, due to be released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Health, has concluded that the resident was the victim of neglect at the facility — Hillcrest Terrace at Chisholm. Investigators found that the staff failed to tell a nurse about the man’s steadily deteriorating condition and failed “to maintain a livable environment.”
The agency has cited the facility for lack of supervision, failure to enforce cleaning duties and the failure of employees to recognize the resident’s critical condition, according to the report.
The case has been referred to the St. Louis County attorney’s office for possible criminal charges in failure to care for a vulnerable adult. No fine was recommended by the Health Department.
A lawyer for Hillcrest’s owner declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
“We do not comment on a particular resident’s care and treatment, nor do we discuss quality-of-care standards,” attorney Steve Laitinen said. “In those infrequent instances where the care of a client has posed a concern, Hillcrest has worked diligently with the Department of Health.”
State officials reacted angrily when told of the report’s findings.
“I’m appalled at the conditions there and will look at who was supposed to be monitoring his care,” said Roberta Opheim, Minnesota ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities. “I will have someone visit that particular facility immediately.”
Hillcrest Terrace is owned by Range Development Co., which owns 14 assisted-living and Alzheimer’s care facilities in northern Minnesota. Two developmentally disabled people and 12 to 15 people with mental health ailments live at Hillcrest.
In 2011, the same facility was cited for neglect of a resident who suffered a broken arm and was not treated for at least a month, causing lasting bone damage, according to an earlier investigation.