Staff Directory 10645926

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
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."
A nurse’s aide at a senior care facility in Byron, Minn., posted this image of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease along with a demeaning message.

Court: Alzheimer's patient's photo posted on social media not illegal

Attorneys for the Alzheimer's patient's husband sued the facility, alleging the post revealed private information about the patient's health condition.
Derwin Turner, left, unloaded dozens of foam mats, along with Elim Church Lead Pastor Paul Stephen Olson, center, and KMS owner Ken McCraley, right, i

With state help, hundreds of shelter beds open for homeless Minnesotans

Gov. Walz launched effort to help the homeless.
Tori Boyer, a mother of three who has received MFIP assistance since she suffered a traumatic brain injury, said that for a time the monthly payments

Minnesota welfare payments to increase for first time since 1986

The raise of $100 a month for 29,000 families is the first since 1986.
Bradford Teslow, who has intellectual disabilities, was hired through the Connect 700 program for a job in state government, but says his multiple req

Minn. jobs program for people with disabilities fails to live up to promise

Fewer than 12% of hires still work in state jobs.

Woman hammers nails into her head; Maplewood assisted-living facility faulted

Woman pounded nails into her head that weren't detected for a month.
Minnesota State Senator J im Abeler led a hearing Wednesday where Minnesota Department of Human Services officials unveiled plans to improve the state

Minnesota takes steps to modernize disability services

People with disabilities and their families say the $3 billion program is confusing and arbitrary.
State Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said the new internal audit is a sign her agency is responding to complaints.

Audit finds violations of laws to prevent fraud at DHS unit

An internal audit at the Minnesota Department of Human Services has found several violations of laws to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the division responsible for a recent series of improper payments.

Report: Minnesota shows progress in reducing child removals

The number of kids removed from homes because of abuse or neglect fell for first time in 9 years.
In 2017, Lisa Papp-Richards installed a camera to monitor the care of her mother, Mary Ann Richards, 77, at a nursing home in Bemidji, taking advantag

Minnesota law gives green light to surveillance cameras in senior homes

Cameras have become an important tool for families who suspect abuse in senior care facilities.
Jennifer Wright was shocked to learn that the senior care clinic that cares for her 84-year-old mother, Jo Wright, will be shutting down in February.

Clinic closings will worsen Minn. shortage of geriatric specialists

Hennepin Healthcare will be closing its Augustana and Parkside senior care clinics, both in Minneapolis, at the end of February.
State legislators from both parties and disability rights advocates are gearing up for a major push to reform Minnesota’s $3 billion assistance prog

Disability rights to take center stage as Minnesota Legislature sets to convene

Legislators from both parties want changes in the state's assistance program, plus more inclusion.
American Indian activists began to assemble outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Friday night to demand more emergency shelter beds for pe

Indian activists escalate campaign for more shelter beds in Twin Cities

The group said it will continue to occupy public spaces until officials approve a culturally-specific shelter.
Erik Wiltscheck has been homeless and living in a motel in Brooklyn Center since he was evicted last week from a “sober home” in Minneapolis. Wilt

Overdose at St. Paul 'sober home' sheds light on unregulated industry

Sober homes can play a vital role, but critics say oftentimes they're just a bed and a trigger for relapse.
Dustin Sabby’s family used state IRIS funding to install a whirlpool – “a godsend,” said his mom, Lori Sabby-Lemke, who said that it soothes D

In Wisconsin, people with disabilities can direct own medical funding

The controversial move shifted the balance of power away from insurers and government bureaucrats, and empowered individuals to make their own choices
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, left, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, right, met with displaced Francis Drake Hotel residents at Bethlehem Baptist Church,

Uprooted by fire, dozens of homeless families face an uncertain future amid housing crisis

An exterior inspection of the building determined that the eastern portion cannot be salvaged.
Social workers cleared of liability in 2013 death of 4-year-old Eric Dean

Social workers cleared of liability in 2013 death of 4-year-old Eric Dean

State appeals court rules 3 on staff have immunity.
Several hundred people marched in the silent Homeless Memorial March carrying signs that recognized the 190 homeless, previously homeless and advocate

Gov. Tim Walz nets nearly $5 million to combat homelessness in Minnesota

Leaders aim to open about 150 new shelter beds immediately.
Hennepin County Deputy Administrator Jennifer DeCubellis said the county’s child protection system has turned a corner and is “out of crisis,” b

Hennepin County agrees to sweeping improvements in child protection

"We are out of crisis" but not finished with reforms, a top official says.
Native American community members and leaders gathered around a fire before a teepee was erected during the early morning hours on Saturday along Fran

Indian activists end occupation of former Minneapolis homeless camp, vow to keep fighting for more shelter beds

They're negotiating with the city for more shelter beds.
Prayer ties are seen Saturday on a fence near where a teepee was erected during the early morning hours on a stretch of land along Hiawatha and Frankl

Indian activists hunker down at site of former Minneapolis homeless camp

For a second day, American Indian activists occupied the site of a once-sprawling homeless encampment, insisting they will not leave until local officials address their demands for more emergency shelter beds.
Protesters have erected a teepee at the center of a former homeless encampment in south Minneapolis, seen Saturday morning.

Indian activists reoccupy site of former Mpls. homeless camp

Despite city's efforts, more must be done to help the homeless, leaders say.
Patricia Wilson looks out of the bedroom at her group home to see if her mother has arrived. Her mother, Janet Resler, takes Wilson out to community m

Disabled Minnesota residents often live in costly isolation

Rather than helping develop care plans that would allow disabled Minnesotans to live in their homes, counties continue to steer thousands into facilities that promote dependency and isolation.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, questioned new Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead in September. Abeler said it’s unfair to ask the c

Minnesota counties resist costly payments for Department of Human Services errors

The department is trying to collect $9 million from counties for mistakes it made.
State Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead

Human services commissioner fills several top posts at embattled Minnesota agency

They're the first major leadership appointments as Commissioner Jodi Harpstead rebuilds trust.
State Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead testified before lawmakers about what she has learned in her first 90 days and her plans going forwar

State DHS leader lays out plan to rebuild trust in troubled agency

Jodi Harpstead pledged to strengthen internal controls and form an outside advisory council that will include Bill George, the former Medtronic CEO who was once Harpstead's boss.
La Vang, 26, of Newport, a former home health nurse, was convicted of stealing painkillers from an elderly patient under his care.

Twin Cities home health nurse gets 18 months for stealing painkillers

Prosecutors sought a tough sentence because of the victim's prolonged suffering and vulnerability.
Apple Valley artist Sarah Bender is among the co-founders of the "Treat People Like People" campaign. She said people frequently make false assumption

New campaign highlights power of people with disabilities

Unlike many anti-abuse campaigns, which reduce victims to impassive caricatures, "Treat People Like People" features people with disabilities as fully actualized humans, with voices and dreams of their own.
Samuel Lee Sandbo, 21, of Windom, has been charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct with vulnerable adults.

Male aide charged with two sexual assaults at southwest Minnesota group homes

Both victims have significant intellectual and mental disabilities, according to a criminal complaint.

Infant dies after suffering serious injury at central Minnesota day care

The operator's license has been suspended.
DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead listened as Legislative Auditor James Nobles discussed the results of his investigation into Medicaid overpayments by

Counties will pay for some of DHS' growing financial failures

What was $48 million in improper payments to chemical dependency treatment providers has now grown into a more expensive problem as the Minnesota Department of Human Services revealed additional failures Monday.