CEO, Aspirience Home Care
State health officials are threatening to withhold the license of the troubled Minneapolis Veterans Home, saying the problems in care uncovered last year require new state scrutiny.
The 402-bed home’s license expires today, Monday. The home has taken steps to correct the problems, but state officials said Wednesday that after decades of violations at the home, they want more assurance that the cycle will end. The Minnesota Veterans Homes Board is negotiating an agreement with the Health Department over the state-owned home’s license.
One provision of the agreement will include spending about $1 million over the next two years for an outside consultant to monitor the home’s progress and report monthly to the Health Department. The action was more fallout from a state inspection in late 2006 that found 34 violations of care standards and other regulations. Inspectors this year cited the home for medical errors connected to the deaths of three veterans at the home. One death involved a man with diabetes who died when his blood sugar plummeted after he received improper treatment.
The state violations led to $40,700 in fines this year when many of the problems were not corrected. Nine of the fines were for $200 or more, and under state law, four fines of that size trigger action to suspend, revoke or not renew a nursing home license.
I would be seriously concerned about the care at the Minneapolis Veterans Home.
Earlier, Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered the Health Department to begin monitoring care at the home until an outside consultant was hired to provide that help. He has also named a commission to study the problems and governance of the state’s five veterans homes.
Although the Minneapolis Veterans Home’s license expires today, Monday, it will continue in effect until an agreement is reached with the Veterans Homes Board, possibly by early August.
The home is unlikely to lose its license, but the threat is an indication of how serious health inspectors consider the history of care problems at the home. Shortcomings at the home included inadequate therapy for bedsores and physical rehabilitation, failure to follow care plans, medical errors and violations of residents’ rights to privacy and dignity.
In 2005, a similar annual inspection found 27 violations of state care and other rules. The home, a complex of historic buildings overlooking the Mississippi River, has had regulatory problems dating to the 1970s. Even though you hear the employees at the the home say things like, “This is a very serious situation,” and “We’re taking all due steps to make sure we’re meeting the requirements of the Department of Health,” this battle has raged on for years.
The home, which has 341 beds in its nursing home and 61 in assisted living, stopped taking new admissions in January until its care problems have been fixed. There are 45 vacancies in the nursing home portion, with 342 people on the waiting list to get in.
The Health Department issued its demands in a letter June 20 but did not make a public announcement. News of the license problems surfaced in minutes of a special July 3 meeting of the Veterans Homes Board, which met again last week to work things out.
While details of the home’s new requirements still are being negotiated, they will include monthly reports from the home’s consultant, Health Dimensions Group, of Minneapolis. The reports will summarize problems, concerns, complaints, its recommendations to the Minneapolis Home, the home’s progress in meeting those recommendations, and staff training.
The Health Department could have charged the Homes Board thousands of dollars for reinspecting the Minneapolis home after all these problems surfaced. But officials there decided not to do so unless serious problems show up again. Again?? “We decided that, in this instance, it was all state money, going from one pocket to another,” one inspector said. “We already had to defend that we had fined them.” Problems since the 70’s, a failed inspection in 2005 and another in 2007?
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