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Posts about Seniors

Park Nicollet fined $18,750 by EPA

Posted by: Jane Friedmann Updated: July 25, 2012 - 6:13 PM
Park Nicollet Health Services was fined $18,750 for allegedly failing to keep records and submit reports on air emissions from Methodist Hospital, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week.
The health care company   failed to properly document emissions from ethylene oxide equipment sterilizers used at the hospital in St. Louis Park, the EPA said.
Heavy exposure to ethylene oxide can lead to organ damage, convulsions and other ailments, according to federal health officials.
“After being notified of the violations, the company took steps to meet all requirements,” the EPA said. Park Nicollet also agreed to spend $56,250 on lead abatement in low-income housing in St. Louis Park and Minneapolis.

St. Paul to address sex-trafficking and alcohol

Posted by: Jane Friedmann Updated: July 6, 2012 - 5:20 PM
Here’s a couple of interesting items on the St. Paul City Council’s July 11 agenda.
Calling on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of its online classified site,, because it serves as a platform to traffic minors for sex.
All but the most depraved can agree that’s a noble request.
Authorizing the Police Department to donate seized alcoholic spirits to the Little Sisters of the Poor, to be used for their residents on special occasions.
Whistleblower did a double take on that one.
But thankfully the resolution doesn’t propose handing out liquor to folks undergoing in-patient alcohol-dependency treatment. It is meant only for consumption by mainly elderly, poor residents of the organization’s Holy Family Residence on Exchange St., and only for special occasions.
The police department is not allowed to auction or drink seized alcohol, so what else are they going to do with it.
It sounds as though the residents would be able to have quite a shindig or three; As much as $10,000 in alcohol is proposed for donation on an annual basis. If it brightens a few days, Whistleblower is all for it.

Click here to read the city council's agenda with links to resolutions.

Neglect is cited in nursing home death

Posted by: Jane Friedmann Updated: June 13, 2012 - 7:29 PM
A Red Wing nursing home neglected a resident in September when the man was placed in the wrong wheelchair, took a tumble and died from complications from the fall, according to an Office of Health Facilities Complaints report made public Wednesday.
The resident of Red Wing Health Care Center had dementia and had a history of trying to get out of his wheelchair, which was fitted with a self-release seat belt and an alarm that sounded when the man stood up.
A worker put the man in his roommate’s wheelchair one morning. Workers heard him fall and found him lying under the wheelchair. He sustained a neck fracture and a head wound and died at the hospital.
The home now places initials on wheelchairs and has told staff to read care plans.

Theft charges after client’s rings pawned

Posted by: Jane Friedmann Updated: May 1, 2012 - 10:27 AM
Theft charges after client’s rings pawned
A worker at a Woodbury nursing home was charged with felony theft for pawning a resident’s wedding rings in December, according to an Office of Health Facilities Complaints report last month.
The resident of Woodbury Health Care Center had gone to the dining room to do some late-night reading. The next morning she found examination gloves on her bed and noticed that her rings, which she kept in a bag, were missing.
The facility’s video footage showed a worker entering the resident’s room while the resident was in the dining room.
Police searched pawnshops and found that the day after the theft the worker was shown on video pawning the rings, appraised at $4,100, for $403.
The worker failed to appear for a subpoena last month.

Her caretaker wasn't vetted

Posted by: Kelly Smith Updated: April 17, 2012 - 12:18 PM

If you missed Sunday's Whistleblower, here it is. To add to the conversation, go to the original article.


It was supposed to be a routine trip to the doctor for 83-year-old Bernice Martens. But in the parking lot of the medical center, a caretaker dropped Martens while trying to lift her from the car to her wheelchair. It happened a second time when the caretaker tried to lift her client back into the car.

Less than two weeks later, Martens was dead.

Her caretaker, it was discovered later, wasn't qualified to work directly with clients -- something her employer, Senior Helpers in Bloomington, didn't know because the company didn't do a background check until after firing her.

An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health into the incident last October found negligence on the part of both the employee and Senior Helpers, and identified three violations of state statute. The employee, who wasn't named, denied to investigators that she dropped Martens and said she thought she used transfer belts, but wasn't sure. The employee was fired two days after the incident.

"We want to extend our sincerest apologies to the family," Senior Helpers owner Mike Johnson said in a statement. "This is an isolated incident and we have a well established reputation of excellence serving this community. We thoroughly trained our caregiver and unfortunately this person did not follow procedure."

It's the only substantiated complaint against Senior Helpers filed with the Minnesota Department of Health since 2008. The company, which operates nationwide, hires caregivers to work with seniors like Martens who lived on their own.

For Martens' family, the findings come too late. The mishandling of Martens by her caretaker contributed to her rapid decline in health and ultimately her death, the family's attorney Mark Niemeyer said.

"She was in very good health," he said. After falling, "she declined in a matter of days."

The family will try to settle with the company out of court, but is prepared to sue, he said.

Only weeks before her death, Martens, 83, had moved from Illinois to an Eden Prairie senior apartment to be closer to her son, Scott Martens, and his family. They hired Senior Helpers caretakers to get Martens to appointments.

On Oct. 25, 2011, Martens' daughter-in-law went with her to an appointment. According to the state report, the Senior Helpers employee arrived to pick her up, but had to get help lifting Martens from her wheelchair to the car. When they got to the appointment, the caretaker attempted to move Martens from the car to the wheelchair and dropped her on the ground. Medical center staff had to help get Martens into a wheelchair. The daughter-in-law reported the incident to Senior Helpers, but after the appointment, the employee dropped Martens a second time trying to lift her into the car.

The caretaker didn't use a transfer belt in any of the three cases, even though Martens' care plan called for it, the report said.

That night, Martens complained of pain to a different caretaker, who noted a "very large" bruise from her waist to arm pit, 6 inches wide. It wasn't reported to a nurse, according to the state.

Two days later, Martens told a staff member she was "in pain all the time" after the two falls. The following day, she was admitted to a hospital with a massive hematoma. She died there a week later, her death certificate citing "aspiration pneumonitis."

A background study is required of staff before direct contact in facilities licensed by the Department of Health or the Department of Human Services. But Senior Helpers didn't submit one for Martens' caretaker until the day after firing her.

"Had [Senior Helpers] conducted the background study prior to the [employee] providing services as required by statute," the state report said, "[Senior Helpers] would have been notified that the [employee] could not provide direct contact with clients."

The state faulted Senior Helpers for failing to follow Martens' care plan, conduct a background study or report the maltreatment to a nurse. It is now in compliance, said Stella French, director of the Office of Health Facility Complaints.

Neglecting to complete background studies on employees is rare, she said, but incidents involving transferring a patient from one place to another are "very common, unfortunately."

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib


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