By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities woman is accusing the nursing home that’s caring for her dad, a World War II veteran, of depriving him of basic necessities.

Wendy Rudek became so concerned a few weeks ago, she installed a camera in her father’s room at a senior living center in Forest Lake. What she saw disturbed her. Rudek, who is a nurse herself, calls it neglect.

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“The aide came in to pick up his lunch tray and she’s eating it, while he’s sleeping in bed,” Rudek said as she pointed to the video.

This is just one of the incidents Rudek witnessed once she installed a camera inside her dad’s room at Birchwood Senior Living. Richard Haller is 94-years-old.

“He has dementia, he is legally blind although he can kind of see outlines,” Rudek said.

Nearly a decade ago her family faced the hard choice many do, to move her parents out of their home and into a facility. She watched Richard’s health decline over the last few years.

“He doesn’t have fluids, he’s hungry. There’s a strong odor there that he hasn’t been changed in quite some time. So we have had numerous care conferences with the facility talking about the issues that have come up with his needs,” Rudek said.

Her constant concerns prompted her to place a camera in his room to see for herself what was happening.

“And so the hidden camera really opened our eyes to really what kind of care he is getting there and it’s shocking and it’s very sad,” Rudek said.

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Wendy points out her dads clothes weren’t changed for three days. And she says people leave food in his room, then leave.

“We have doctor’s orders to help assist feed him because he’s blind,” Rudek said.
He rarely eats. On more than one occasion the camera captured someone eating Richard’s food. And he’s looked for something to drink.

“They had a little cup of syrup and it shows him trying to drink his syrup because he’s so thirsty because there’s nothing else for him to drink. Here he’s going to take the lotion and drink it,” Rudek said.

One night Richard fell out of bed. Someone found him an hour later but he hadn’t been checked on in eight hours. She brought her findings to the staff.

“This right here, this is serious neglect. They couldn’t give me an excuse because I have it on camera,” Rudek said.

She’s reported what she calls neglect to the state. An investigation is underway. As a nurse, she fears what could happen in the time it takes to look into her claims.

“By the time that happens he could be dead. These are basic things that are everyday things. These are food and fluid. You have to them to survive,” Rudek said.

Birchwood Senior Living Center responded with a statement:

“Since March 23, when the family of our resident brought their concerns to our attention, we have met with them twice and taken many actions including working with the family on modifying our resident’s care plan, conducting audits of procedures, staff retraining, and, in one instance, the termination of one of our employees for eating our resident’s food. We are cooperating with the police in this situation and we also reported it to the Department of Health. We will continue to work with our resident, the family, our staff and our regulator to ensure our resident – who has been a member of our community for almost a a decade – is safe and well cared for in accordance with our resident’s and family’s expectations as well as our standards.”

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Rudek said she feels stuck. Her family isn’t able to care for their dad full time, and medical assistance covers the facility. She said she’s also been warned that moving her father could be detrimental to his health.

Jennifer Mayerle