Several Republican senators, including Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), chair of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee, held a press conference Tuesday to demand answers from Minnesota Department of Health officials in response to recent reports of abuse and neglect in Minnesota senior care facilities and the failure by the Department of Health and Office of Health Facilities Complaints to follow up on complaints.
“As chair of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee, one of the biggest issues facing our state today is making sure Minnesota’s elderly and vulnerable populations are protected,” said Senator Housley. “For eleven months, I have been asking the Department of Health for answers, but have received very little information. People are being abused, severely injured, and dying, and nothing is any better – even after eleven months. Our parents and grandparents should not have to suffer through physical abuse, sexual assault, robbery, and neglect.”
“The stories of abuse and neglect at our senior care facilities are deeply troubling,” said Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. “We trust these facilities to provide the best care to our loved ones, but in too many cases that clearly isn’t happening. We can’t wait for another working group or for task force reviews; results need to happen now. Minnesotans deserve answers and accountability.”
The Office of the Legislative Auditor has begun preliminary investigations into the Office of Health Facilities Complaints, but those findings will not be made available until March. The Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee has been calling for more transparency, additional oversight, and other sweeping changes in the Office of Health Facilities Complaints for months. The committee has requested prompt answers on the allegations, on the department’s culture, and on a pathway forward for the Minnesotans they serve.
“We cannot wait until the legislative session in March to answer these question – lives hang in the balance. I demand accountability, transparency, and immediate attention in addressing these issues,” Senator Housley continued. “I’d like to hear from the Department of Health to know, specifically, what resources or legislative changes are needed to make sure the abuse in our senior care facilities comes to an end, to change the culture of complacency within the health department, and to provide accountability to those who have fallen victim to our state’s shortcomings.”
Note: You can watch the press conference, in its entirety, by clicking here.