March 6, 2018
Minnesota Health Commissioner Statement on Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor Evaluation
Commissioner Jan Malcolm issued this statement in response to the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor’s evaluation report for the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC).
The Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) evaluation report addresses a number of important issues, and we are thankful for their diligent work. We agree with the legislative auditor’s recommendations and we have provided a detailed response to the report. To read the report, including our response, visit the OLA’s Office of Health Facility Complaints webpage.
We have publicly acknowledged that in recent years, OHFC has not met Minnesotans’ expectations for investigating maltreatment complaints in a timely way. Since December 2017, we have made significant progress on many of the concerns cited in the OLA’s evaluation. Just last week, we announced completing a triage review of all 2,321 reports in our backlog. Our investigation backlog has been reduced by about half – from over 800 cases down to around 400 as of last week.
Our progress in reducing and eliminating the backlogs has come thanks in no small part to our inter-agency partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Through this framework, DHS has provided the services of their Office of Continuous Improvement and Office of Inspector General staff to work with MDH staff on process and system improvement.
We also thank DHS for help in implementing a new paperless system for receiving, handling and investigating elder abuse complaints. Last week OHFC implemented this new system and a new workflow for handling complaints, greatly improving efficiency.
We have more work to do to improve our culture and systems and to ensure an effective and timely response to every complaint we receive. With nearly 400 new reports of abuse or neglect coming in from around the state each week, we are committed to working with families, legislators, long-term care providers and consumer advocates to implement the OLA recommendations and reduce the prevalence of elder abuse. We will not rest until every family gets the highest level of service and care.
It is important to note that the OLA report highlights worrisome gaps in the regulatory structure for facilities and providers serving vulnerable adults. As the report shows, it is unacceptably difficult for the people served, their families and care providers to know which services are regulated – and which are not – under what rules and by which agencies. On this point, the Governor’s workgroup comprised of consumer advocate groups made key recommendations for legislators to consider. The current laws are confusing to the public, and a legislative work group can help deliver positive reforms.