ST. PAUL, Minn. - Governor Mark Dayton announced Tuesday that the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health is resigning – effective immediately.
Dr. Edward Ehlinger had headed the department since 2011.
resignation comes in the wake of charges that the department has failed
to properly investigate reports of abuse and neglect in senior care
Since May, KARE 11 has been investigating complaints from families
that state investigators left them in the dark about – or failed to
investigate – complaints about their loved ones.
“Why are we
continuing to hear about the abuse neglect and harm to our senior
population?” State Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s) asked last week
during a news conference.
Flanked by other lawmakers, she demanded
an investigation of Department of Health leadership after reports the
state was mishandling complaints.
In one case, KARE 11 described how workers had been caught on video verbally abusing and threatening a patient with dementia.
In another, an elderly woman was sexually assaulted by an aide who was supposed to help her.
But KARE 11’s investigation discovered that, too often, the state doesn’t even investigate complaints.
Records obtained by KARE 11 showed how care facility workers left Mary Cleary for 19 hours with two broken legs before they sent her to the hospital.
laid me there and I didn’t have anything really that I could do except
cry and yell,” she told her family in a cell phone video before her
The state closed that case without even doing an
investigation. Records show it was just one of thousands of reports the
state failed to investigate.
In 2016, the state received more than
24,000 reports of abuse and neglect. But records reveal Ihe vast
majority of them – more than 23,000 – were never fully investigated.
a statement released after the resignation announcement, Senator
Housley said: "While the resignation of Commissioner Ehlinger is a step
forward, there is much work to do to restore the trust of the most
Governor Dayton named Health Department Deputy Commissioner Dan
Pollock acting Commissioner until a permanent replacement is selected.
weeks ago, the Governor ordered that the Minnesota Department of Human
Services’ Office of the Inspector General provide the Health Department
assistance in improving the management of its investigations of elder
neglect and abuse.
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Investigates: MN Health Commissioner abruptly resigns