Eveleth nursing home reviews reporting procedures after state reportAn Eveleth nursing home failed to protect two employees from reprisal or intimidation last year after one of them reported that a fellow employee appeared to be drunk while taking residents’ blood samples, the Minnesota Department of Health said.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
An Eveleth nursing home failed to protect two employees from reprisal or intimidation last year after one of them reported that a fellow employee appeared to be drunk while taking residents’ blood samples, the Minnesota Department of Health said.
But the administrator of Fitzgerald Nursing Home and Rehab said the employee hadn’t been intoxicated.
“The facility did investigate what was reported,” said Laura Petersen, who has been with the nursing home for seven years and administrator since October. “It turned out to be some gossip. It went through the game of telephone, so to speak.”
The nursing home, which has 24 certified beds, is part of Eveleth Health Service Park. It wasn’t “tagged” for having an intoxicated employee, but because it didn’t take action to prevent reprisal, Petersen noted.
“This employee had contacted a couple of other employees to ask them how things were going,” Petersen said. “That’s not what we want to happen during an investigation.”
The incident was one of several Level F deficiencies found at the nursing home in the state’s Nov. 4 survey. Those are mid-level deficiencies that are “widespread” but “constitute no actual harm.” The health department surveys every nursing home in the state annually, and it’s not uncommon for several Level F deficiencies to be reported.
If deficiencies aren’t corrected, the nursing home can face sanctions ranging from state monitoring to loss of Medicare and Medicaid payments. The Eveleth facility was given until Dec. 14 to make corrections. Notations on the survey form showed corrections were made on Dec. 6 and Dec. 9.
According to the report:
The incident began on Sept. 20, when a nursing assistant reported to the director of nurses that a licensed practical nurse “appeared intoxicated while trying to complete resident blood draws.” A few days later, the accused nurse questioned the nursing assistant about who would have reported the incident. The nursing assistant said she felt intimidated, and that she also received several “prank” telephone calls that she believed were made by the nurse.
A second nursing assistant said she witnessed the same behavior but didn’t report it. However, she said the nurse came outside during a break and said, “What one of you was the narc?” The nursing assistant said she felt intimidated and harassed by the nurse every time they worked together.
The nurse was sent home the morning the allegations about drinking on the job were made. The director of nurses said she talked with the nurse about some text messages that were sent to other employees. However, neither the director of nurses nor the acting administrator told the nurse “to refrain from reprisal or intimidation,” according to the report.
The nurse no longer works at Fitzgerald Nursing Home, the report noted.
But Petersen said the LPN was sent home that morning for an entirely different reason, and the “gossip” suggesting she had been drunk arose from that. The fact that the nurse no longer works for the nursing home had nothing to do with that incident, she said.
The deficiency was addressed by staff re-education on Dec. 6 “regarding the right to report confidential information without the fear of reprisal or intimidation,” the health department report said. Also, as of Dec. 9, department supervisors are required to randomly select staff to interview about reporting issues and concerns.
The nursing home is now in full compliance with state guidelines, Petersen said.
“We have some great staff here and we have some great visions for our facility,” she said. “We’re getting our staff on board.”