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Perham facility complies with order

A Perham, Minn., assisted-living facility was found last week to be in compliance with a correction order issued after an investigation into allegations of neglect earlier this year by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The investigation of The Thomas House concluded in February that the facility was negligent in its treatment of an 87-year-old patient who died last July following two falls.

A correction order was issued, giving the facility, owned and operated by Lisa Nelson, 30 days to comply with accepted Minnesota medical and nursing standards.

Nelson said Friday that after a visit on May 21 and after reviewing files of other patients at Thomas House, state officials felt she was providing patients with the care outlined in the correction order.

Nelson, a registered nurse, said she was pleased with the outcome, adding that the incident was a single error on her part and not a reflection of the care her facility has provided in its eight-year history.

According to the investigation report:

The patient, identified in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article as Helen Boedigheimer, suffered from end-stage dementia and was in declining health when seen by a physician on June 15, 2009.

At the same appointment, a family member not identified in the report determined that Boedigheimer would start hospice care on July 1 after the family member returned from a trip.

Following the visit, Boedigheimer fell out of bed on two separate occasions on June 26 and 28. Staff recorded bruising on her elbows and a lump on her head following the falls, but she was not evaluated by a registered nurse.

On June 29, following the second fall, a staff member notified Nelson that Boedigheimer may have had a broken arm.

Nelson told The Forum on Friday that the staff member first contacted her about the broken arm at 9:15 p.m. on June 29, and Nelson made a doctor's appointment for the next morning and advised staff to give Boedigheimer some Tylenol for pain.

On July 1, a family member returned to the facility to meet with hospices and "could tell immediately that (Boedigheimer) was actively dying."

Boedigheimer died the next day, July 2.

Nelson stated in the report that she didn't expect Boedigheimer's health to decline so rapidly while the family was out of town and planned to update them when they returned.

Nelson said Boedigheimer received good care during her six years at Thomas House.

"I needed to learn from my mistake, but I don't believe she suffered because I didn't follow my job description," she told The Forum on Friday.

(Editor's Note: This article was published in the May 29 edition of The Forum. Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at 701-241-5511.)