ST. PAUL, Minn. - Governor Mark Dayton says he is appalled by the abuse and neglect at Minnesota senior care facilities. Wednesday he called for a task force to recommend changes.
KARE 11 has been documenting abuse, neglect and secrecy in nursing homes and assisted living facilities for months, sharing the sad stories of families seeking justice.
One of those families is the Cleary family. Mary Cleary was in her 90’s and living at a nursing home when she broke both of her legs as aides put her to bed. Records show it was 19 hours before Mary was taken to the hospital.
Before she died, Mary told her story in a cell phone video. “I was screaming and I couldn’t really help it,” she recalled. “I think they were broken when I fell,” she said. “They said ‘Oh, you didn’t break any bones’ and I said I know I did. I could kind of hear them.”
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The nursing home did its own investigation and found it did nothing wrong.
“They never even asked her what happened that night,” said Mary’s son Butch Cleary.
Records show the Minnesota Department of Health never even investigated, apparently taking the nursing home’s word.
KARE 11 has spoken to other families horrified by their loved ones’ treatment. They include cases in which families say information about the abuse was initially kept secret.
In one case, a woman with dementia named Suzanne Edwards was berated, taunted and threatened to be lit on fire by aides at an assisted living home.
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Her son, Kent Edwards says he was kept in the dark about the details by both the facility and the state.
This week, after a series of reports in the Star Tribune highlighted problems at Minnesota senior care facilities, Governor Dayton says enough is enough.
“We’ve got to change that ethic that people think they can do that and get away with it,” Dayton said. “It’s fundamentally wrong.”
At a news conference, Dayton announced he would be creating a task force of experts to study the issues facing vulnerable adults in senior care facilities. He said he will ask the task force to recommend reform legislation in time for the upcoming session beginning in February.
“I want Minnesotans to be assured that their loved ones are being properly cared for and protected,” Dayton said.
Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) who chairs the Senate Aging and Long Term Care Policy Committee said her committee would examine ways to improve care and transparency.
Family members have been calling for action for years.
“It’s absurd,” says Kent Edwards. “Think about it. These are our parents. These are our grandparents.”
Mary Cleary left a call for action in her haunting final cell phone video.
“My intention is not to have other people hurt in the same way,” she said.