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State Agency Leaders Present to Association Board on Complaint Investigations

Patti CullenBy Patti Cullen, CAE, President/CEO, Care Providers of Minnesota
January 19, 2018  |  All members

MDH & DHS staff
MDH & DHS staff discussions with 
Care Providers of MN Board of Directors

On January 17, 2018, Acting Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Dan Pollock and Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS) Emily Piper attended the Care Providers of Minnesota Board of Directors meeting to speak about their work in restructuring the complaint investigation system for abuse/neglect in senior care settings. We invited them to the meeting to hear about progress being made in systems changes but also to send the message that want to be part of the solution. In addition to the commissioners, attending the meeting were DHS Assistant Commissioner Santos Cruz, who oversees the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and MDH Assistant Commissioner Gil Acevedo, who oversees MDH licensing and the Office of Health Facility Complaints. Here are a few highlights from the lengthy exchange between our Board members and guests:

  • DHS has had some experience in dealing with backlogs of licensure investigations, as well as access to both OIG and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) staff. Since late December, DHS has had an interagency agreement with MDH which will span a year, and allow them to both address the backlog of investigations but also the systems that led to that backlog. 
  • Both OIG and CQI staff have been on-site at the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) and will continue to work directly with the OHFC staff and program during this agreement. One of the outstanding issues is whether the Federal government (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) will allow Minnesota to truly combine the OHFC system with the DHS system known as MAARC to avoid some of the confusion and investigatory delays that result from two different systems.
  • DHS commissioners
    DHS Asst. Commissioner Santo Cruz & DHS
    Commissioner Emily Piper talking with Tom Pollock

  • Both commissioners acknowledged the scope of the problem and the need to fix how complaints are processed, including moving to new technology—both an interim technology, as well as moving to SSIS eventually. They are focusing on dual tracks right now—getting through the backlog of cases, which really started back in 2015, but also establishing a new process moving forward.
  • When asked what they are seeing so far in sorting through the backlog of cases is:  there were many complaints that didn’t need to be reported (we once again encouraged the finalization of a decision tree); most everything was being triaged at the two-day timeframe without consideration of severity, so they recognize they need a better triage system; and they need to move away from paper processing!
  • Some of the best advice given to the Board was related to the negative press stories and the desire legislators have to take some sort of action: “Focus on best practices and the story we want to say moving forward. We have space and time to be proactive on the story we want to share.”

We did note after their initial comments that we hope we can continue to work with the agencies in collaboration on mutual goals of prevention, protection, and transparency for those seniors entrusted to the care provided by Care Providers of Minnesota members. There is a hearing on these issues on January 24th and we hope to share a proactive proposal with legislators at that time.

Patti Cullen, CAE – 952-851-2487 – 


About Care Providers of Minnesota

Care Providers of Minnesota is a non-profit membership association with the mission to Empower Members to Performance Excellence. Our 900+ members across Minnesota represent non-profit and for-profit organizations providing services along the full spectrum of post-acute care and long-term services and support. We are the state affiliate for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, and with our national partners we provide solutions for quality care.

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