Our Program for Tuesday was Kristine Sundberg, Executive Director of Elder Voice Family Advocates.  Kristine is a well-known community servant and activist having served with distinction on the Shorewood City Council and a lobbyist.  However her involvement and founding of Elder Voice is personal.  Prior to her father’s death was not checked on for seven days by his elder care provider.  This tragedy caused her and other families to form this non-profit to get legislation in place to hold elder care facilities to hold these businesses accountable with licensing oversight standards and much needed mandatory continuing education.  Kris noted that Minnesota was the only state that didn’t license elder care facilities.  Her group found that there were over 4,000 complaints in 2010 and more than 22,500 in 2018 that were rarely investigated.  Currently due to the enabling legislation and current Minnesota Commission of Health is working to enforce the 2019 laws and holding care facilities accountable.
Three major challenges to elder care reform are well funded opposition, shortage of employees and the pandemic.  Currently there are some 46 lobbyists funded by elder care facilities and they have $93,546 in the Political Action Committee to influence the legislature and the public.  It took two years to get the licensing and standards through the legislation and Commissioner Jan Nelson is doing a great job of enforcement.  Due to poor pay there are 23,000 open positions in elder long term care facilities and burnout of workers.  Add the pandemic in Minnesota with 70-80% of the deaths were in these facilities while the national average was 31%!  The family stories are horrific and Elder Voice Family Advocates are giving a voice to families with relatives in long term care and assisted living programs.                                                                                          
Families looking for care Facilities can do a lot to protect their loved ones.  Kris suggests to look beyond the glitter of amenities and to check staffing ratios.  See if they have a resident council, get everything in writing, check MDH investigations and survey reports, complaint history and their Covid death records.  Four and five star ratings are no sure guarantee of good service and stay away from finder groups as they are paid by these facilities.
Kris provided club members with important advocacy literature and urged members to contact her at kris@ElderVoice Advocacy.org or call her at 952-239-6394.