Minneapolis vets home facing fines for uncorrected problemsby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
The Minnesota Department of Health found three new violations during a reinspection of the Minneapolis Veterans Home. Health officials also found that six previous violations have not been corrected. As a result, the home is facing daily fines until those six problems are corrected.
St. Paul, Minn. — Health officials originally inspected the Minneapolis Veterans Home last November and found 26 violations. Twenty of them had been corrected by the time of last month's re-inspection, but six had not. According to an inspection report issued Wednesday, one of the unresolved violations involved medication errors.
In one case, an inspector reported that a licensed practical nurse didn't understand a needle she was about to use for an insulin injection had been contaminated after it brushed up against papers and a book cover. When the inspector told her she had contaminated the needle the nurse asked when she had done so. The nurse then discarded the syringe and opened a new sterile one.
The violations also include problems related to preventing and treating skin ulcers.
State Health Commissioner Diane Mandernach says the department has imposed fines totaling $1,850 a day for the uncorrected violations.
"When in fact, the facility believes that they have corrected those repeat violations, they let us know and we will be out there within 3 business days to assure that, in fact, it has been corrected this time," Mandernach said.
The Veterans Home has been under the spotlight recently because of the state inspection, as well as a federal inspection and reports that three deaths at the facility were connected to negligence or medication errors.
Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Division is holding a hearing on the Veterans Home Friday. She says she was not surprised to learn about the uncorrected violations or the new violations.
"Let me say that what I am surprised about is that we keep seeing some of the same kind of violations over and over again in areas that are pretty serious, in terms of skin integrity and infection control and things like that," Berglin said.
Gov. Pawlenty has brought in a consulting firm to monitor the Veterans Home. But the nurses union says staffing is more important than consultants when it comes to ensuring adequate patient care.
Linda Slattengren, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, says nursing care is labor intensive.
"Taking care of that high acuity population of patients is very labor intensive. In addition to needing an oversight and professional look at all of those patients to keep them well," Slattengren said.
The Minnesota Veterans Homes oversees five nursing homes, including the facility in Minneapolis. Board chairman Jeff Johnson and other board members say four of the five are fine. And now they're working to address all of the violations to try to bring the Minneapolis facility up to the quality of care at the other facilities.
"We're not satisfied, we're not pleased. We're very concerned," Johnson said.
And while board members say no citations are acceptable, they still have to convince the federal government that the facility is taking sufficient action to head off a threatened cut of about $7 million in federal funding because of the violations.
Meanwhile, Johnson is expected to testify about the Veterans Home on Friday before lawmakers in both the House and Senate.
- Morning Edition, 03/08/2007, 7:40 a.m.