Via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor has issued a report stating that the state agency responsible for protecting vulnerable Minnesotans in senior care facilities has failed to meet its responsibilities and suffers from a “dysfunctional office culture,” found. In a scathing report issued early Tuesday, the Office of the Minnesota Legislative Auditor said it found deep and chronic failures in the way the state Health Department’s Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) investigates allegations of abuse and communicates with the public. The audit found that OHFC lacks an effective case management system, which has contributed to lost files and poor decisions regarding the allocation of resources; does a poor job managing data; and does not inform vulnerable adults or their relatives whether providers have reported suspected maltreatment, among other findings. The auditor also found that the OHFC was plagued with a “dysfunctional” office culture marked by high staff turnover, few written policies and a lack of confidence in senior leadership. The agency also lacked basic guidelines for staff to determine how to investigate even common types of incidents, such as when an elderly resident experiences an unexplained injury. The report, which took nearly a year to complete, is expected to fuel mounting calls for reform of the state’s troubled system for investigating the thousands of maltreatment allegations submitted each year to state regulators. The report comes in the midst of an ambitious effort by the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton to address a backlog of unresolved complaints, tighten state enforcement and improve the handling of future maltreatment complaints.