Regional News in Review - September 2013

Security hospital faces sanctions

The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter was fined $2,000 and had its conditional licensing status extended by one year after authorities documented two cases of patient maltreatment and a number of serious record-keeping violations related to the use of restraints and seclusion. Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services Lucinda Jesson issued a statement August 28 saying that state officials are “Deeply Concerned” about the incidents. “While these incidents are serious, we are encouraged that the Licensing Division has acknowledged that significant improvements have taken place at the facility over the past year,” Jesson said. “We are committed to achieving continued progress to-ward improving the care and safety of patients.”

The St. Peter hospital, Minnesota’s largest psychiatric facility with roughly 400 patients, has been roiled over the past two years with management problems, turnover in key staff positions and cases of patient maltreatment. That has led to more state scrutiny and work to correct problems.

State reports indicated that hospital staff failed to intervene in August 2012 as a patient repeatedly banged his or her head against a concrete wall over a three-hour period. In a separate incident, two members of the medical staff failed to obtain timely help for a patient who exhibited unusual symptoms after an apparent seizure. The patient waited for hours for advanced medical care and was found to have suffered a stroke.

Extension of the conditional license has resulted in new and modified requirements governing the care of vulnerable adults and documentation of seclusion and restraint practices. (Source: Star Tribune)

 

Brain injury treatment at risk

Ellie Cizek, 20, sustained a head injury while skiing in January. Her family has dealt with considerable frustration over her care since then. The accident left her in a coma for days. She was in an amnesia-like state until April. Only four months into her recovery from a traumatic brain injury, her health insurer denied further care at a rehabilitation center in Omaha. She was brought home to St. Paul. So like many other families, the Cizeks must raise funds for their daughter’s care.

“Insurance is pretty mean to brain-injured patients,” Cizek’s sister, Josie, said. But it’s a common refrain for patients like Cizek and a growing concern in the United States, where the concussive force of sport injuries, car crashes and other accidents causes 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries each year, including 90,000 severe enough to cause long-term disability.

Doctors often recommend cognitive rehabilitation a set of therapies to retrain patients’ brains and restore lost brainpower—beyond what insurance companies cover. Insurers face the dilemma of trying to hold the line on therapy costs, especially if it appears that patients have platituded in their recoveries.

Her family told her story to the Star Tribune to raise awareness of the dilemma Cizek and so many others face in trying to get care. She participates in group therapy at Courage Center in Golden Valley, but her parents want her to return to Quality Living Inc., in Omaha, one of the only inpatient rehab centers for traumatic brain injuries so she can receive more intensive services during this critical period of healing. But because she can walk and talk, her insurance carrier refused coverage. The family isn’t naming the insurance carrier. The Brain Injury Association of America believes there should be no arbitrary caps on days of cognitive rehab because treatment of patients is so individualized. (Source: Star Tribune)

 

 

Video provides judicial access for hearing impaired, deaf

Confused about a court proceedings? Not clear how Courts operate? The Minnesota Judicial Branch has created a video to make sure citizens who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have equal access in the state court system. The 20-minute video called: “Going to Court: Tips for Minnesotans who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.”

It’s meant to help those who are deaf or hard-of-hear0ing prepare for a court appearance, and request communication assistance if needed. It is captioned and is in American Sign Language. It was developed with input from persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The video was produced to help explain what can be confusing court rules. It is posted online at www.mncourts.gov.  (Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch)

 

 

Disability leads to action

A former online news service editor, who has Crohn’s disease, has taken action against Patch.com The lawsuit was filed in late August in U.S. District Court.

Crohn’s is an incurable inflammatory bowel disease with symptoms that include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Mary Vandergrift, former editor of the Golden Valley Patch website, claims that five hours after her baby was delivered by Caesarian section, she was emailed and asked to work from her hospital bed. She is alleging that employer AOL and Patch failed to accommodate her under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act and other laws. She is also claiming that when she sought to exercise her rights her bosses would retaliate, shorting her paycheck and not providing needed technical support. She was let go last year.

AOL and Patch have not filed a response to the lawsuit. Patch is an online news site founded in 2007 and acquired by AOL in 2009. It was formed with the aim of giving readers more local news. (Source: Pioneer Press)

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