Nursing home fires worker accused of patient abuse

A female nursing assistant at a Benedictine Health System facility in Eveleth has been fired after allegations that the employee emotionally abused a resident.

A female nursing assistant at a Benedictine Health System facility in Eveleth has been fired after allegations that the employee emotionally abused a resident.

According to a Minnesota Department of Health report, a nursing assistant at St. Raphael's Health and Rehabilitation Center on July 14 allegedly told a resident in graphic language to "shut the --- up" after the resident asked for a banana.

The incident was witnessed by another employee but not reported to supervisory staff until July 19, because the employee feared that the nursing assistant might find out where she lives and come after her.

The nursing assistant was fired by Benedictine Health System after an investigation by the facility and the Department of Health.

"This was especially bad in terms of language," said Darcy Miner, Department of Health compliance monitoring division director. "We work very hard to make sure residents are in a safe environment, including verbal abuse and emotional abuse."


The name of the employee is not being released.

"St. Raphael's is committed to providing compassionate care to all its residents and took this very seriously," said Janis Hooey, Benedictine Health System manager of community affairs. "It was self-reported to all the appropriate agencies and we cooperated fully with the Department of Health in its investigation, which verified that proper action was taken."

Four other residents of the facility were interviewed in the investigation. All said they had been verbally or emotionally abused by the nursing assistant or had information regarding the assistant's behavior.

According to the report, the nursing assistant had a long history of work performance issues and consistently and repetitively used derogatory and foul language in front of residents. Administrators were aware of the performance issues and had tried to take steps to monitor the issues and ensure dignified care and safety of the residents, the report said.

Previous work issues reported by the facility included allegations that the nursing assistant had slapped a resident; withheld food from overweight residents; was rude to staff and residents; swore in front of residents; and was "intimidating and demeaning."

The assistant had been fired in November 2003, but she denied the allegations, appealed and the termination was reversed. The employee was reinstated on June 24, 2004, and was paid retroactively with benefits for about a seven-month period.

From January 2005 through January 2007, the employee received verbal warnings, counseling and disciplinary action on several occasions.

On Nov. 11, 2006, the employee received a three-day suspension for sleeping at work while on duty, putting residents at risk and neglecting her duties.


The health-care facility provided several education and counseling opportunities to the employee, according to the report.

The nursing assistant was hired in 1989, completed orientation and attended mandatory Vulnerable Adults Act training, the report said.

The facility has been in operation since 1956, expanding from 32 beds to 122 beds in 1980. In 2002, Benedictine Health System acquired the facility, which today has 100 beds and private living facilities. Benedictine Health System is a nonprofit Catholic health-care company with offices in Duluth and Cambridge, Minn. Benedictine Health System operates more than 50 health-care facilities.

The fired employee will be notified of the findings and have a right to challenge, according to the report.

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