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Senate panel questions commissioner about conditions at Hastings Veterans Home

The hearing comes just days after the firing of two high ranking officials following reports of a hostile work environment at the home that is impacting patients.

HASTINGS, Minn. — State lawmakers held a hearing Tuesday to question a top official regarding persistent concerns about conditions at the Hastings Veterans Home.

The hearing comes just days after the dismissal of deputy commissioner Doug Hughes and Hastings Veterans Home administrator Mike Anderson following years of reports alleging a hostile work environment, which allegedly jeopardized the care provided to veterans at the Hastings facility. Minnesota Department of Veteran's Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke and other stakeholders will answer questions about issues plaguing the facility, and what the department plans to do to fix them. 

Herke announced the dismissals in a memo to staff Sunday, saying he had decided to go "in a different direction with the home's leadership." The commissioner said the MDVA has started a search to fill both positions, and in the interim named Brad Lindsay Interim Deputy Commissioner of Healthcare, and Craig Smith as interim administrator of the Hastings Veterans Home. 

"I am grateful to see the MDVA acting to address the unacceptable conditions for veterans and their caregivers in Hastings," said Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee, in a released statement. "Our committee and our caucus take seriously the allegations of mismanagement, retaliation, and staff turnover, and its impact on the care and the lives of our treasured veterans."

"This is a much needed step," Murphy continued. "But we have more work to do in order to achieve the high quality of care and the quality of life Minnesotans rightly expect for our veterans. I look forward to the opportunity to hear from Commissioner Herke on how the department plans to move forward."

Murphy added that the committee will continue to invite input from veterans, their families, providers, and staff, and do what they can to insure Minnesota's veterans homes are "adequately funded, staffed, and supported.”  


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