An elderly woman suffered frostbite and hypothermia, while another reported being sexually assaulted by a fellow resident, in the latest incidents of neglect documented by state investigators at senior homes in Minnesota.
At a senior home in Sauk Rapids in January, a woman with dementia and a history of wandering was found lying outdoors amid windchills of 24 to 30 degrees below zero. The woman suffered frostbite to her hands and was admitted to a hospital.
In a separate incident, an elderly man and woman who lived at White Pine Senior Living in Inver Grove Heights were found naked from the waist down, with the woman sitting on the man's lap. The woman reported being sexually assaulted, though police investigated and could not determine if an assault occurred.
The two assisted-living centers were cited for neglect by the Minnesota Department of Health, which released twin investigation reports Tuesday.
Both incidents involved vulnerable residents suffering from dementia and histories of erratic behavior. The elderly woman who was found outside in subzero temperatures had wandered from the building six times in five months. The woman's care plan said she was "a wandering risk" and staff were supposed to check on her hourly, state investigators found.
However, they concluded, staff were not consistent in checking on her. On the January night of the incident, she was found lying outside the building, about 20 feet from an exit door, wearing a light, long-sleeved shirt. She had been outside for about 25 minutes. At times, staff were unable to verify who was entering or leaving the assisted-living center because they were busy providing care to clients and could not leave them unattended, state investigators found.
Wendy Hulsebus, owner of Cherrywood Advanced Living in Sauk Rapids, which has 20 residents, said the facility installed a new security system within a month after the frostbite incident. "By securing the building, we have gone a long way toward addressing [the state's] concerns," Hulsebus said.
The elderly man accused of assault at the Inver Grove Heights home had a history of aggressive behavior. Previously, he had taken the woman back to his room against her will by pushing her in his wheelchair from the dining room. The senior home held a conference with the man and his family to discuss the behavior and possible interventions, but the facility did not increase supervision, state investigators found.
The man acted aggressively in other ways — kissing the same woman on the mouth and hitting a staff member who intervened. Even so, no changes to the resident's supervision occurred, the state found.
Kathy Siegling, regional vice president for White Pine Senior Living, which houses 62 people at its assisted-living home in Inver Grove Heights, said the home disagreed with the state's findings and may file an appeal.