State investigation describes assault, death of home care client at Hill City facility

An investigation into a Hill City home care provider details abuse of a client that resulted in their death, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The investigation began Nov. 6 at Chappy’s Golden Shores in Hill City, Minnesota when investigators arrived at the facility unannounced to investigate an allegation of maltreatment.

According to investigators, a client was allegedly abused by two staff members of the facility, resulting in an intracranial hemorrhage, a pulmonary embolism and death. The incident occurred about two weeks after the client was admitted into the facility.

The investigation concluded that the abuse was substantiated and that two staff members abused the client while a third watched, did not intervene and failed to report the incident. The bystander employee was not found responsible for the maltreatment.

One of the staffers allegedly struck the client in the head and face while another staffer held the client down. Subsequent interviews with staff revealed the client was bleeding from his head and face and was “freaking out” and trying to defend himself.

Several weeks after the abuse, the client was hospitalized for a brain bleed. That client died due to complications seven weeks later.

Another staff member said one of the employees “beat the crap out of him.” That same staff member said the abuse was reported to the owner of Chappy’s Golden Shores, but that they did nothing about it.

Other employees interviewed said management prohibited staff from reporting maltreatment and tried to cover up the incident. They also said the same abusive employee hit another client as well.

The client was at the facility receiving home care services for cerebral palsy and cognitive dysfunction. He was wheelchair dependent and needed assistance with all cares and activities of daily living. According to the investigation, “the client did have difficult behaviors upon admission to the facility.”

One of the nurses, who is also an owner of the facility, said the client was physical, violent and hitting when he moved in. She denied anyone hit the client during the day in question.

A hospital physician said the client’s death was deemed natural, but said knowledge of the former abuse would have “definitely affected the finding.”

All of the employees involved denied the allegations.

“No action was taken by the facility to prevent further occurrences of abuse,” reads the Department of Health report. “In fact, facility leadership promoted a culture that encouraged repeated occurrences of abuse by discouraging staff from reporting suspected maltreatment, falsifying records and failing to train staff to the needs of the client.”

The employees in question are all still employed by the facility.

A previous suspension

In early December, the facility was issued a 90-day suspension of its license, requiring the displacement of 35 residents at the time.

After that suspension, Chappy’s Owner Keith Olson said he felt blindsided by the Department of Health ruling.

“No explanation, didn’t know they were coming. No notice,” he said to FOX 9.