Watch CBS News

Minn. Senate Committee Hears Elder Abuse Cases

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota state officials say it will take at least six months to clear a massive backlog of abuse complaints at senior care facilities around the state.

This comes after hundreds of uninvestigated reports of abuses of vulnerable seniors.

A state Senate committee is hearing horror stories about treatment of seniors in nursing homes and care facilities. And they want to know why thousands of reports were never investigated.

Families of vulnerable seniors in care facilities say they have been complaining for years about mistreatment of their loved ones -- and the state failed to act.

Many filled the hearing room, including Kristine Sandburg, who was out of the country when her father died after being left alone in his room for seven days.

"Our family members have suffered long, sometimes painful deaths, or had limbs amputated because of untreated infections, ignored emergency situations or failure to give basic care," said Sundberg, of Elder Voices Family Advocates.

Elder Abuse Hearing
(credit: CBS)

The Minnesota Department of Human Services took over more than 2,300 abuse cases dating back years that have never been investigated due to staff shortages, low morale and outdated technology.

They promise to resolve them in six to 12 months. The Minnesota Department of Health admitting it was overwhelmed.

"What we're seeing in these cases ... I read every single one completed, is that there are simply a lot of bad actors out there that are slipping under our radar," said Dan Pollock, MDH's acting director.

Lawmakers expressed shock at the stories of abuse.

"There are some places that are problematic, and I'm really unhappy about that," said Jim Abeler, R-Human Services Reform Committee. "And where there's smoke, this is an inferno. It's not smoke."

There were also flashes of anger that no one listened to families cries for help.

"It snowballed over the Dayton administration and was completely ignored and was brushed under the table," said Sen. Karin Housley, R-Aging and Long Term Care Committee. "So I think there needs to be some apologies made, and some accountability taken."

Edler care experts said Wednesday that Minnesota's outdated state laws are not sufficient to protect elders from abuse.

In fact, one expert said call 911 if you think your loved one is a victim of abuse.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.