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Chris Serres

Reporter | Social Services
Phone: 612-673-4308

Chris Serres covers social services for the Star Tribune.

Serres writes about issues affecting society's most vulnerable populations, including the poor, elderly, mentally ill and people with cognitive and physical disabilities. He is married and has two children, Dominic, 12, and Emmanuelle, 10. He has been a newspaper reporter for 20 years.
Recent content from Chris Serres
Katherine Berg with husband Brian Berg and grandkids Cullen Beeler, 8, and Laney Beeler, 5, blew a kiss to her mom, 99-year-old Eleanor Murray, who is

Resurgent COVID-19 is racing through Minn. senior homes

The latest wave of infections is hitting many smaller, rural facilities with staffing shortages.
Lynda Lange took her mother MaryAnn Falk, 85, out for a walk around the McKenna Crossing Assisted Living facility in Prior Lake.

'My heart aches': Minn. seniors brace for lonely holiday season

For the past five decades, MaryAnn Falk has been the guiding force behind her family’s annual Thanksgiving celebration. The former factory worker from New Ulm,…
Kilray Beaumont, 59, gets ready to drop off absentee ballot requests as well early voting ballots at the Minneapolis Early Vote Center. In the backgro

Minnesota senior home residents struggle to vote amid the pandemic, lockdown rules

COVID-19 has created new barriers to voting for seniors who live in care facilities.
A Minnesota National Guardsman wore medical gloves to a free testing event at the Minneapolis Armory in May.

Minnesota Guard called in for virus outbreaks at two nursing homes

The emergency deployments to the Austin and Hibbing facilities reflect a severe staffing shortage amplified by the pandemic.
Carla Gillespie with her son Dylan visited her mother, Evelyn Solberg at the Jones-Harrison Residence on Monday, Oct. 12. It was the first time famili

State lifts curbs on indoor visits to senior homes, but urges caution

Lifting of the lockdown poses fresh challenges for many of Minnesota's 2,100 long-term care facilities, which are struggling to keep the virus at bay amid a troubling increase in cases across the region.
A swab containing a mid-nasal sample from a Jones-Harrison Residence staffer was sealed in a vial before being sent to the Mayo Clinic for evaluation

Minnesota starts COVID-19 tests for nursing home inspectors

The state Department of Health ordered the testing last week after the Star Tribune reported that the agency had been sending inspectors into nursing homes and assisted-living centers without first checking them for the virus.
Kay Foley, 88, left, and her daughter Chris Coverdale blew kisses to each other after an outdoor visit in July at Jones-Harrison nursing home. Some fa

Spike in virus cases keeps Minn. families out of senior homes

Some of the state's largest nursing homes and assisted-living communities have yet to open their doors to visits by family members and outside caregivers, despite new state guidelines.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead at a state Senate hearing last year.

Minnesota DHS to cut spending, impose layoffs to close shortfall

The state's largest agency is shifting away from operating group homes. The budget cuts were disclosed in a memo to state employees.
Nurse Julia Marek peeled a bar coded label off the hand of Rose Mogi before obtaining a mid-nasal sample from her during routine weekly testing for CO

Hundreds of Minnesota nursing homes to receive rapid testing kits

The devices, also known as "point-of-care" tests, should help nursing homes move more quickly to treat infected residents and staffers, as well as isolate them sooner before they spread the virus to others.
Julia Marek, a registered nurse, opened the wrapper on a fresh swab before obtaining a nasal sample from another staffer at the Jones-Harrison Residen

As cases surge, nursing home inspectors not routinely tested

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the agency intends to start testing staffers who visit long-term care facilities.
Chris Hamby.

Review: 'Soul Full of Coal Dust,' by Chris Hamby

NONFICTION: A New York Times reporter exposes how mining companies and their lawyers rigged a system to deny benefits to coal miners sickened with black lung.
Julia Marek obtained a midnasal sample from Rose Mogi during routine weekly testing for COVID-19 at the Jones-Harrison Residence.

Minnesota senior homes struggle with virus test backlogs, delays

Testing supplies have not kept up with surging demand, putting greater pressure on an already stretched system,
The St. Therese nursing home in New Hope.

Minnesota issues strict new guidance for visits to senior care facilities

Faced with an alarming resurgence of the coronavirus in senior living facilities, state health officials are recommending strict new guidelines around when and how these facilities should further open their doors to outside visitors.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield.

State's COVID cases increasing among long-term care residents

Since early July, the weekly number of new infections among long-term care residents has nearly tripled, with 172 new cases last week.
Tony Vang, left, with nonprofit People Incorporated, handed out new socks to Tou Vang in an encampment in eastern St. Paul.

Minnesota launches pioneering Medicaid program to combat homelessness

Minnesota becomes the first state to offer housing support services in its basic Medicaid health plan.
Kay Foley, 88, left, and her daughter Chris Coverdale blew kisses to each other after an outdoor visit at Jones-Harrison nursing home.

Minn. officials encouraged as long-term care deaths drop tenfold

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm also cautioned that the virus still presents challenges.
Gladys Falk, left, with her daughter Candace Falk during a visit to her senior home. Gladys Falk died COVID-19 on June 2.

Stronger senior care protections sought across Minnesota

As lawmakers reconvene this week for a special session, elder care advocates and families are renewing their push for new consumer safeguards to protect thousands of seniors who live in lightly regulated assisted- living facilities.
Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead

Minnesota reopens adult day centers for people with disabilities

Many programs have struggled financially during pandemic.
Victoria Conrad got to spend an hour with her 99-year old father, Howard Seitzer, at Oak Meadows Senior Living in Oakdale on June 18, when outdoor vis

Minnesota will let some family members inside senior homes

For the first time in four months, families will be allowed to visit their loved ones inside senior care homes, as Minnesota health authorities cautiously lift lockdown restrictions meant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus among vulnerable older adults.
A hospital worker held a bottle of disinfectant outside the North Ridge Health and Rehab nursing home in New Hope, Minn. The nursing home previously e

Complaints of evictions in Minn. senior care homes up nearly 30% during pandemic

They are the top reported grievance to the ombudsman's office, with 150 complaints lodged between March 1 and the end of June, records show.
A woman who worked as a caregiver at a senior home near St. Cloud was subjected to racial harassment and abuse by a resident at the facility and then

Minnesota senior living facility settles charges of racial bias

A care worker was subjected to epithets, according to a legal settlement announced Tuesday by the state Department of Human Rights.
“Our entire disabilities services sector is on the verge of collapse,” warned Sen. Jim Abeler, chairman of the Human Services Reform Finance and P

Virus leaves disability service providers on brink of collapse

Dozens of centers have been forced to close temporarily since March, and after months of layoffs and furloughs, there are growing fears that this often-overlooked piece of the social safety net may collapse.
Victoria Conrad greeted her 99-year old father, Howard Seitzer, as they had their first face-to-face visit since the COVID-19 pandemic closed off Oak

For first time in months, nursing home residents able to visit with loved ones

State health officials are seeking to balance the risk of infection with ills caused by prolonged isolation.
Danielle Jin visited her mother, Juan Zhu, at an assisted-living facility in Vadnais Heights. Jin must talk to her mother at the window because the fa

Minnesota allows window visits at long-term care facilities

Since late March, visitors have been all but banned from nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the state. "It has been utterly heartbreaking," said Jean Peters, a nurse and president of Elder Voice Family Advocates. "People are literally dying of loneliness."
After Dennis Barrow was evicted earlier in the week from a former Sheraton hotel that had been turned into a shelter, he pitched a tent at Powderhorn

Minneapolis homeless forced out of a hotel face uncertain future

New written notices warned a camp in Powderhorn Park would be dismantled within 72 hours, but the Park Board rescinds its order, averting a standoff.
Keke Caston used a shopping cart to evacuate from the Sheraton shelter off Lake Street Tuesday. “We have nowhere to go,” she said. “We’re goin

Homeless evicted from former Mpls. hotel after drug overdose

The sudden evacuation marks the second time in recent weeks that large numbers of homeless people have been forced to leave a temporary site.
A North Memorial transport worker held a bottle of disinfectant outside North Ridge Health and Rehabilitation, which has seen 57 COVID-19 deaths.

Stark data shows impact of COVID on state's nursing homes

Residents and staff of Minnesota's nursing homes are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, accounting for two-thirds of all deaths in long-term care.
Jeff Johnson and his mother, Kathy Johnson, during a recent visit with his father, Michael Johnson, at the North Ridge Health and Rehab nursing home i

Feds: More than half of Minnesota nursing homes have COVID-19 cases

Six of the state's nursing homes have lost more than 50 residents to the coronavirus.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, left, and state Sen. Karin Housley.

Housley threatens to subpoena health agency over COVID-19 nursing home data

Sen. Karin Housley said the agency has denied or ignored multiple requests for information vital to those in senior care facilities and their families.
Family members of nursing home residents held a vigil last Tuesday outside the governor's residence to protest the discharges of COVID-19 patients fro

Minnesota lawmakers and advocates call for end to 'virus pipeline' to elder care

At a Senate committee hearing, state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm defended the practice.
Sauer Health Care is one of the Minnesota nursing homes with outbreaks of COVID-19 that have been cited by the state for infection-control violations

Minnesota ramps up COVID-19 testing in nursing homes

More than 10,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities have been tested.
Staff and volunteers at Second Harvest Heartland, the state's largest food bank, filled emergency food kits in response to the coronavirus at its ware

Extra food assistance extended to 350,000 poor Minnesota children

The benefit will help alleviate hunger among poor children in the summer months.
Sauer Health Care is one of three Minnesota nursing homes with outbreaks of COVID-19 that have been cited by the state for infection-control violation

4 Minnesota nursing homes with outbreaks cited for serious violations

The state Department of Health found the homes placed their residents in "immediate jeopardy."
Kasi Korum, 41, a recovering cancer patient, said she had to sleep on the floor of the Villa at Bryn Mawr nursing home because she refused to stay in

Despite toll, nursing home residents are still sharing rooms

In Minnesota and nationally, the deadliest clusters of the coronavirus have tended to be in large, multistory nursing homes with people doubled up in rooms and separated by curtains.
Lauren Thompson, who has cerebral palsy, moved home because of a shortage of caregivers. “I feel less safe,” she said.

Minnesota seniors, disabled still battling isolation, despite loosening of restrictions

Advocates have voiced alarms that restrictions are being taken too far.
Jeff Johnson and his mother, Kathy Johnson, are visiting their father, Michael Johnson, who is 71, at the North Ridge Health and Rehab nursing home in

Despite toll, nursing homes are still taking in infected patients

The practice is drawing strong opposition that such transfers endanger residents of senior homes that are understaffed and ill-equipped to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Only after taking a shower and changing clothes does Jasmine Laducer-Kitto hug her 2-year-old, Eloheem.

'Every hour is a battle': Minn. nursing home worker shares front-line challenges

For the past two months, there has been little respite for workers.
A small camp of about a dozen tents along Hiawatha Avenue has swelled to more than 100 homeless men and women. Crews wearing protective Tyvek suits cl

Officials seek to contain growing Camp Quarantine in south Mpls.

Citing urgent public health concerns, Metro Transit authorities are moving to contain the spread of a large and growing homeless encampment near the light-rail line in south Minneapolis.
Left to right, Ross Heier, executive chef at Redstone American Grill; Kristin Kroeger, Redstone Grill regional manager; and Sarah Sheeley of Horizonta

Death toll climbs to 55 at New Hope nursing home hit by virus

The death toll at the facility — the site of the state's deadliest outbreak since the pandemic began — has more than quadrupled in the past two weeks. State health officials identified multiple lapses of infection-control standards.
North Memorial ambulance workers prepared to transport a resident from North Ridge Health and Rehabilitation in New Hope on Wednesday.

New Hope nursing home with deadly COVID-19 outbreak cited

More than 40 residents at North Ridge Health and Rehab have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Nurse Barbara Sager, an education training specialist, led a class of Presbyterian Homes employees on infection control in response to the COVID-19 ou

Minnesota nursing homes scramble to protect residents from coronavirus

Senior living facilities have imposed unprecedented limits on visitors.
After moving out of the Higher Ground homeless shelter in Minneapolis, Douglas Pyle, 49, reacts to seeing his hotel room for the first time Friday.

Hundreds of homeless move to Twin Cities hotels to prevent virus in shelters

About 540 homeless adults with underlying health problems who have been moved out of shelters and into four Twin Cities-area hotels.
An employee left the grounds during a shift change at St. Therese of New Hope on Thursday.

'Death is everywhere': New Hope nursing home hit hard

Families said they were kept in the dark about the deadly magnitude of the outbreak.
Residents of Meridian Manor in Wayzata were evacuated in ambulances and vans after an outbreak of the coronavirus was detected earlier this month.

Minn. proposes delay for new rules to protect seniors in assisted living

State health officials say their priority has shifted toward responding to COVID-19.
At least 13 residents of this Catholic Eldercare nursing home in northeast Minneaplis have died of COVID-19, and eight other residents have contracted

13 dead from COVID-19 at Catholic nursing home in Mpls.

Catholic Eldercare reported the outbreak in a letter to family members and said it had begun to isolate residents infected with COVID-19 in a designated section of its 174-bed nursing home at 817 Main Street NE.
Kortoe Mikely, a nursing aide, held up a sign to thank supporters who gathered outside St. Therese of New Hope on Friday.

Rally backs workers at New Hope nursing home hit by virus

The crowd of about 80 people included many people with loved ones at St. Therese of New Hope, where at least 12 residents have died since early April.
Kimberly Lawrence of Rosemount, a volunteer, packs loaves of bread at Second Harvest. Staff and volunteers at Second Harvest Heartland, the state’s

Emergency food aid to help Minnesotans struggling with hunger during pandemic

The expanded food stamp benefits will provide relief to more than 250,000 Minnesotans.
St. Therese of New Hope said it is working with state officials to quarantine infected residents.

New Hope nursing home has one of state's worst outbreaks

At least 12 residents of a large senior care community in New Hope have died of the novel coronavirus, representing one of the state's deadliest outbreaks of the respiratory illness at a single site.
A COVID-19 outbreak at Sauer Health Care in Winona has killed eight residents and infected nearly a dozen others.

Amid mounting death toll, Minnesota officials scramble to find safe places for seniors

As the deadly coronavirus continues its rampage through Minnesota nursing homes, public health officials are facing a fresh dilemma.
Rose Crist waved down to her daughter, Deana Walkowiak-Olson, from her fourth floor window at St. Ann's Residence in Duluth, MN on Thursday.

At Duluth senior facility, deadly outbreak quickly took over

Minutes into a conversation with her mother, Deana Walkowiak-Olson could not shake the sensation that something was terribly wrong at the large Duluth senior home…
Hope Avenue program director Monica Nilsson, left, sat with Andre Jarrett while he was interviewed by Dr. Julia Joseph-Di Caprio, chief medical office

With coronavirus case, anxiety spreads through homeless shelter in northeast Minneapolis

A small shelter struggles with little support to contain a coronavirus outbreak.
Jennifer Hernandez peeks out of her tent at "Camp Quarantine" as it has become informally known.

Coronavirus fears push more Twin Cities homeless to live in tents

As the novel coronavirus tightens its grip, such clusters of tents and sleeping bags are appearing in public spaces — in parks, under bridges and along transit lines — throughout the Twin Cities metro area.
A woman walked past The Glenn Minnetonka, one of four dozen facilities statewide reporting outbreaks of the Coronavirus.

Nursing homes launch aggressive safety measures to control virus

The new safeguards include constant mask-wearing by staff; more aggressive segregation of infected residents and more rigorous screening of workers.
The Waters of Edina was one of four dozen facilities statewide reporting outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Minnesota details breadth of elder-care coronavirus cases

More than half of the 24 Minnesotans who have died from the disease lived in nursing homes or assisted-living centers.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state would begin releasing the names of long-term care facilities with residents or staff who have

In reversal, Minnesota will release names of senior care facilities with coronavirus

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said her agency will begin publishing the names on its website as early as Friday or Saturday.
The entrance to Johanna Shores, a senior living community in Arden Hills where two residents have been infected with the novel coronavirus. Residents

Names of care facilities with virus withheld

As deaths mount, pressure is building on the state to release more. The Minnesota Department of Health has cited concerns that releasing names would violate privacy laws.
Jeanne Calvit, founder of Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, with some of her colleagues, in healthier times. The St. Paul-based cent

Minn. DHS orders more than 200 adult day centers for seniors, people with disabilities to close

In a letter sent to providers on Sunday, the agency said staffers providing adult day services are not considered "critical sector" workers.
Danielle Jin, 57, visited her mother, Juan Zhu, 91, at an assisted-living facility in Vadnais Heights. Jin must talk to her mother at the window becau

Families agonize over separation as coronavirus spreads in Minnesota's nursing homes

Many fear the worst is yet to come, and their loved ones will die alone, with no one holding their hand.
Last week, Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and announced community mitigation strategies for Minnesotans in response to t

Walz orders aim to protect safety net for vulnerable Minnesotans

The latest in a flurry of executive orders would provide emergency relief to older and disabled Minnesotans.
Carmen Aspling and her fiancé John Sapp are homeless, but they found a place to stay in a Minneapolis church shelter operated by Simpson Housing Serv

Amid COVID-19, Minnesota homeless face daytime closures, nighttime crowds

The potentially devastating consequences of COVID-19 on the nearly 570,000 Americans without a place to live are starting to raise alarms.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka: “If these regulatory barriers are not removed, someone will very likely die, and not because of COVID-19, but because of p

Minnesota disability service providers shut adult day centers, leaving thousands in the lurch

More than 3,500 adults with disabilities have been affected by the closures as providers seek emergency relief.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead talked with Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, Chairman of the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee be

Watchdog calls for stronger oversight of $1B Minn. home health program

Legislative auditor's report notes progress but urges stronger oversight of state program.
Volunteer Kimberly Lawrence of Rosemount packed loaves of bread at Second Harvest Heartland, the state’s largest food bank. Staffers and volunteers

Minnesota charities ramp up efforts to fight hunger amid coronavirus

Already, many of Minnesota's 300 food shelves are bracing for a decline in donations and a shortage of volunteers.
New Horizon Academy has kept its north Minneapolis center afloat by spreading costs among the 80 centers in its network.

Minnesota faces sanctions for low child-care subsidies, state officials warn

After years of underfunding, Minnesota's state subsidies that help more than 15,000 low-income families have fallen well short of federal standards.
Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, has introduced legislation that would penalize the state Department of Human Services for every month that it fails

Minnesota DHS faces possible fines for breakdowns that led to Medicaid overpayments

A state Senate committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a new bill that would impose escalating fines, starting at $158,000 a month.
Disability advocates descended the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul on Wednesday afternoon after testifying in support of legislation that would

Minnesota advocates seek to abolish subminimum wages for people with disabilities

Thousands do assembly in "sheltered workshops."
“Every dime matters,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead told state state lawmakers at a Senate hearing last year. The embattled state age

Minn. Medicaid program made up to $29M in improper payments for duplicate accounts

More than 47,000 Minnesotans have multiple accounts in the state Medicaid system.
Nathaniel Hurse, a social worker, worries that his grandson, Cartier, could be removed from his care.

Minn. families, advocates fight to drop barriers to foster care

Minnesota has long had among the most stringent foster care licensing standards in the nation. Advocates say the overly strict rules are hurting kids.
Andrea Imhoff, data analyst and former Connect 700 participant who is on the autism spectrum, along with Kenneth Rodgers, coordinator of disability pr

Gov. Walz orders review of troubled state disability hiring program amid mismanagement reports

The once-lauded Connect 700 program has come under fire for being rolled out inconsistently across state agencies.
This home in West St. Paul is operated by the state Department of Human Services. It’s licensed to provide care and living services for up to four a

Man fatally stabs fellow resident at state-run mental health group home in West St. Paul

Another resident arrested in attack at state-run mental health facility in West St. Paul; others unharmed.
Supporters of a ballot initiative to loosen restraints on local rent control laws rallied in San Francisco in 2018.

Review: "Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America," by Conor Dougherty

NONFICTION: A New York Times reporter takes a hard look at the problem of affordable housing.
Apple Valley's ordinance prohibits people convicted of certain sex offenses from living within 1,500 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, churches and

Minnesota sex offenders sue over residency restrictions in Apple Valley

Attorneys argue the far-reaching ordinance effectively bars sex offenders from living in the city.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead called the state investigative report “troubling,” and said her agency was working to bolster training

Patient at Minn. state mental hospital abused, strapped to restraint chair, report says

The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter has been cited nearly a dozen times for violating rules limiting the use of restraints on patients.
Eric Lindblad walked his bundled up 1-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Supernova, through the snow in Northeast Minneapolis last month.

Snowstorm to blanket Twin Cities, much of central, southern Minnesota

The forecast calls for 3 to 8 inches in the metro area, with heavier accumulations to the south.
Iris Altamirano, president of SEIU Local 26, addressed hundreds of janitors and security officers Saturday. They voted to authorize a strike over sick

Twin Cities janitors, security officers vote to authorize strike over pay, sick leave

The president of the SEIU Local 26 said "differences are still mighty."