Regional News in Review - November 2010



Wounded veterans are program focus



Hennepin County Medical (HCMC) Center and Regions Hospital are two of 24 major trauma centers recruited for participation in the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC), which was recently awarded $38.6 million by the Peer Reviewed Orthopedic Research Program (PRORP) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). The purpose of the new funding is to allow the Consortium to expand its work in conducting multi-center studies relevant to the treatment and outcomes of major orthopedic injuries sustained on the battlefield.  The Consortium was established in September 2009 with initial funding by DOD to address some of the immediate research needs of the military in the acute management of severe limb injuries. 

Regions Hospital and HCMC are part of the network of core civilian trauma centers that will work together with the major military medical centers that provide definitive treatment to service members who sustain major trauma while on active duty. The overall goal of the Consortium is to produce the evidence needed to establish treatment guidelines for the optimal care of the wounded soldier and ultimately improve the clinical, functional and quality of life outcomes of both service members and civilians who sustain high energy trauma to the extremities. The Consortium consists of a network of clinical centers from across the United States, with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health serving as the coordinating center.

“We are thrilled to have HCMC and Regions as our partners in this effort to improve the standard of care for the wounded warrior and civilian trauma patient,” said Ellen MacKenzie PhD, Director of the Consortium’s Coordinating Center and the Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management.  “Without a large multi-center effort such as this, we would be unable to effectively study many of the issues that are critical to ensuring the best outcomes following a severe injury.”

Dr. Andrew Schmidt is an HCMC orthopedic surgeon and researcher who have seen firsthand the types of injuries resulting from recent fighting in the Middle East when he has gone overseas to care for patients at military hospitals. “Over the years, research obtained from the battlefield has improved patient care,” he said. “The use of antibiotics began in World War II, and during the Vietnam War, surgeons used improved techniques of vascular technology to improve care.  Today’s combat tactics have gone beyond rifle and mortar attacks to include the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Often packed with rocks, nuts, bolts and even animal manure, they cause complicated extremity blast injuries that require new approaches to save lives – and extremities. The care our military surgeons are providing to our injured soldiers is exemplary, and this sustained research funding will not only lead to improved care of battlefield injuries, but will help us care for our injured patients at home too.”

The research is also expected to lead to better care for civilians who are injured in their day-to-day lives.

“There are complicated injures which, to date, we don’t have answers for, such as mangled extremities, for when amputation is the best decision versus limb salvation,” said Dr. Peter Cole, a HealthPartners Medical Group orthopedic surgeon who practices at Regions Hospital. “We’re seeking ways to prevent infection of bone after compound fractures. Through the integrated research, you can find answers with much more assurance that will help people who are injured in a car accident, a motorcycle accident or people who fall off their roof.”

“We’re honored to be able to participate in the work of the Consortium to improve care to the men and women in our armed forces,” said Schmidt. “Their immeasurable sacrifices warrant the very best treatment medicine has to offer.  The information about new technology and treatment protocols shared through the Consortium will go a long way to further the outstanding care and outcomes they deserve.” [Source: HCMC]



Stolen wheelchair sought



An man  with autistism from St. Paul has had his specially equipped van returned; police were still seeking the return of his wheelchair as Access Press went to press. The missing wheelchair wasn’t in the van when police recovered it. Police said they believe the wheelchair was pawned but they were confident of their ability to recover it and return it to the family of Michael Klingenberg.

Susan Klingenberg reported Oct. 24 that the van had been stolen from in front of her family’s Midway neighborhood home. The van is the only means of transportation for her son Michael, 18. Klingenberg is autistic and needs the wheelchair and the van to get around. The family appeared in television news reports that weekend to explain their plight.

A motorist spotted the van the next day and recognized it from television news reports. The van was stopped near Fuller Avenue and Lexington Parkway, and two suspects arrested. Keri Brush, 32, and James Thomas Neely, 47, were apprehended.

The family was pleased to have the van returned but they are worried about damage to the steering column during the theft.[Source: KSTP-TV, Pioneer Press]



St. Paul protecting the elderly



The St. Paul Police Department has started a new unit devoted to investigating abuse of the elderly, in response to a growing number of such crimes. Sgt. Mike Wortman is St. Paul’s first full-time police investigator dedicated to crimes against senior citizens. The unit was formed in September by new Police Chief Thomas Smith.

Because perpetrators of elder abuse and similar crimes are prosecuted under general statutes that don’t specify age, concrete statistics are hard to come by. St. Paul Police have handled 77 cases of financial crimes against the elderly in 2008, up from 46 in 2006. All crimes against the elderly in St. Paul rose 14 percent from 2007 to 2008, said Assistant Police Chief Kenneth Reed.

“It’s not very common, but it’s growing,” Reed said of police elder-abuse units. “We’ve seen elder abuse cases increasing rapidly each year.”

Wortman’s unit is one more example of the way Minnesota is changing as the state’s elderly population will more than double by 2030. That is forcing changes in health care, transportation, housing, family life and law enforcement.

Because crimes against the elderly have unusual and difficult aspects, such as crimes committed by family members, police say a focused, specialized unit is the only way to protect seniors. Previously, Wortman worked such cases part-time, juggling them with his other duties as an arson investigator. Another investigator also helped out as she worked on unrelated cases. “They’re very time-consuming and long,” Wortman said. “When that’s your sole responsibility, it’s a lot easier.  [Source: Star Tribune]



Health care initiative approved



The Hennepin County Board has set its strategy to oversee integration of federal and state health care reform, voting Oct. 19 to approve a resolution endorsing the Hennepin County Health Care Reform and Integration Initiative. This is Hennepin County’s response to the need to integrate provisions of the new federal comprehensive health care reform act (the Patient Protection Act), as well as recent changes in Minnesota law covering a wide range of provisions related to health care homes, payment reform, public health and health care access.

Hennepin County owns and operates a public hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and primary care, community and mental health clinics. The county also oversees a health plan (Metropolitan Health Plan or MHP). So not surprisingly, the county’s response to integration of federal and state health care reform is complex.

The Health Care Reform and Integration Initiative will develop a coordinated plan to respond to both federal and state changes and provide the opportunity to develop new models of care that improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs.

The county will continue to support HCMC, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, and other community entities that are critical safety-net health-care providers for county residents; particularly those who are poor, and vulnerable, including disabled children, seniors and people with mental illness.

The initiative will be overseen by a steering committee consisting of representatives from the County Board, Hennepin Healthcare System Inc., Hennepin Faculty Associates, HCMC, the Human Services and Public Health Department, MHP, and NorthPoint. The board appointed commissioners Opat, McLaughlin and Stenglein to serve on the committee.  [Source:
Hennepin County]



Mistrial declared in fatal hit-and-run



Family and friends of a woman who is deaf  from Apple Valley, who was struck and fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver, last year, will have to go through another trial. A mistrial was declared Oct. 14 in the case of Joan LeVasseur. LeVasseur died a week after she was struck in March 2009 while crossing Cedar Avenue S. in Apple Valley.

LeVasseur’s parents were frustrated and angry after learning that the jury had deadlocked. On Oct. 13, jurors told Dakota County Judge David Knutson they were at a stalemate in considering the charges against Eric James Hunter, 41, of Rosemount. Two of the 12 jurors were unable to reach a guilty verdict after three days’ deliberation. That was followed by another juror asking to be excused from further deliberations as he had tickets for a sporting event.

“I am so frustrated that I can’t even think,” said LeVasseur’s mother, Patty Boever of Farmington.

LeVasseur was 26 when she died. The Apple Valley resident was crossing Cedar Avenue at 153rd Street when she was hit by a vehicle that left the scene. Hunter was charged several months later with two felony counts of leaving the scene of a fatal accident and also of driving after his license was suspended.

“We are disappointed that the jury was unable to reach a decision in this matter,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. “This was an extremely serious incident that involved the death of a young woman, and we have every intention of retrying the case as soon as possible.”  [Source: Star Tribune]



Families of victims speak out



Family members of residents abused at an Albert Lea nursing home got to speak in court Oct. 23, as one of the perpetrators was sentenced. The sentencing is the second-to-the-last in the case which centered on the behavior of teenage workers at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea. Five family members spoke in Freeborn County District Court before Brianna Marie Broitzman was sentenced. Broitzman, 21, will spend 180 days in jail.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab received 11 statements. In victim impact statements, the family members told the court how their relatives went from being loving and caring people affected by dementia to people who were tense, agitated and even combative. One woman described how a family member would become combative when returned to the home from outside appointments. Another victim, who had spent years as a Freeborn County public health nurse, was “tormented and tortured” at the nursing home.

Broitzman was convicted of three counts of disorderly conduct by a caregiver—all gross misdemeanors—for her abuse as a nursing aide at the nursing home from January through May 2008. She is one of six young women who were believed to have taken part in the abuse. Four others were prosecuted as juveniles.

Jan Reshetar, who was speaking on behalf of the Families Against Nursing Home Abuse advocacy group, and whose mother-in-law was also one of the abused, talked about how the families have come together to help enforce and change laws regarding the abuse of vulnerable adults. “The lives of the families of the victims will never be the same,” Reshetar said.

The final sentencing in the case will be at year’s end. Broitzman’s co-defendant Ashton Larson, who has pleaded guilty to the same charges, is to be sentenced Dec. 22. Larson entered her guilty plea last month.  [Source: Albert Lea Tribune]

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