According to this article, a series of articles on elder abuse in the Strib has Gov. Dayton incensed. As a result of these articles, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, now Minnesota’s former Health Commissioner, resigned his position.

I was stunned when I read “Ehlinger’s resignation comes after media reports, including a five-part series in the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, found residents of senior care facilities statewide were neglected, abused and robbed, but the perpetrators were often never punished and in most instances complaints were never properly investigated. The state Department of Health is responsible for licensing and oversight of senior care centers.”

It’s fair to ask what responsibility Tina Smith has in this. Smith will soon move on from her job as Lt. Gov. Prior to that, though, she was Gov. Dayton’s Chief-of-Staff, the gatekeeper to the governor, the attention-to-detail person. According to MPR’s article, “The move comes weeks after a Minneapolis Star Tribune series exposed widespread elder abuse in Minnesota nursing care facilities that for years was systematically ignored.” This wasn’t something that started recently. It sounds like it’s been happening since Gov. Dayton took over as governor and Smith took over as his Chief of Staff.

They’re the team that’s responsible for making sure that these facilities are operating smoothly. These facilities are part of the Executive Branch, meaning the proverbial buck stops with them. Instead of discovering and fixing these facilities problems, elderly people “were neglected, abused and robbed.” In some cases, “the perpetrators were often never punished and in most instances complaints were never properly investigated.”

By comparison, Karin Housley, the “chairwoman of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee,” has “called for an investigation into management practices at the Health Department after receiving reports of bullying at the agency.” Sen. Housley has officially announced that she’s running in the 2018 special election for Sen. Franken’s seat. The question before Minnesotans is whether Minnesotans can trust a person who was in a position of authority and either did nothing or knew nothing (Lt. Gov. Smith) about the elder abuse or whether they’d prefer a state senator who initiated an investigation into this scandal the minute she found out about it.

This information is frightening:

A Minnesota lawmaker says a state manager whose bureau oversees investigations into abuse and neglect in nursing homes was fired after she blew the whistle on a “toxic culture” that was an obstacle to ensuring that officials do a better job protecting residents of senior care facilities.

Who fired this whistleblower? What motivated that person to terminate the whistleblower right before the whistleblower was about to “meet with an investigator looking into widespread reported problems with how Minnesota investigates reports of elder abuse, including assault, neglect and theft.”

Let’s think about this a minute. “Nancy Omondi was fired days before she was to meet with an investigator looking into widespread reported problems with how Minnesota investigates” elder abuse. This reeks of high-level political cover-up. How high this goes is unknowable at this point. Still, Ms. Omandi held a high-ranking position:

According to state records, Omondi was employed from Sept. 19, 2016, to Nov. 29, 2017, as director of the Health Regulation Division. The division oversees several bureaus, including the Health Systems Bureau, which oversees the Office of Health Facilities Complaints, the office that investigates reports of abuse and neglect against patients and residents of care facilities.

What’s amazing is that this organizational chart already reflects the fact that Ms. Omondi was fired. The organizational chart is updated in a timely fashion but reports of abuse literally went years in some instances without getting investigated.

At the end of the video, the KARE11 reporter said that more transparency is needed. The reporter also said that what’s needed is a change in the culture of the investigative bodies. It’s impossible to argue with either statement.

2 Responses to “Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith ignore elder care facility abuse”

  • eric z says:

    The perps are private sector profiteers, Gary. Why not see them first. Instead, you want more regulation. Strange.

  • Gary Gross says:

    I didn’t say anything about more regulation. I’m talking about more attention being paid to the situation, coupled with better enforcement of existing laws. This isn’t that complicated.

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