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Minnesota family files civil lawsuit against Moorhead nursing home following death

Lila Hazemann1 / 2
Lila Hazemann lived in Lilac Homes for about two months before being hospitalized. Forum News Service2 / 2

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- The family of a Moorhead woman has filed a civil lawsuit against a Moorhead assisted living facility after her 2016 death.

Lila Hazemann, 80, who was living with dementia, entered Lilac Homes for about two months before she rushed to a Sanford hospital from Lilac Homes in Moorhead for what family was told was a “pressure ulcer.”

Trish Olson, Hazemann’s daughter, quickly learned her mother would never leave the hospital.

"I remember, distinctly, the surgeon looking at me, and in a very stern voice saying, 'How long have you known about this,' as if I was the one providing for her care. And I said, 'I just found out about it this morning,"' Olson said.

"The doctor's response was, ‘Well this didn't happen overnight.’"

Hazemann died Dec. 21, 2016, at Sanford Palliative Care in Fargo, according to her published obituary.

Pressure sores are something that hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living centers work to prevent.

"It breaks down the skin and her's was down to the bone. So it is a very deep wound," Olson said.

The surgeon was right, it was not a new wound. “Based on the report I received, they knew about the wound and we were never notified,” Olson said.

Lilac Homes reported the incident to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The health department investigated and found no finding of neglect, but the family appealed that finding.

Months later, according to court documents, the state changed its mind and made a finding of neglect. Lilac Homes is appealing that finding.

With the family’s civil lawsuit against Lilac Homes, Hazemann’s children say her death is part of a bigger problem of oversight at these facilities in Minnesota.

Now the state of Minnesota is looking at changes.

According to the Office of Health Facility Complaints in Minnesota, the number of cases it's looking into has dramatically increased.

Lilac Homes, at 2615 Parkview Dr., Moorhead, has no history of other neglect violations with the state.

The owners would not comment because of the family's lawsuit, but they issued a written statement.

"The result (neglect) of the investigation is not supported by facts. We believe the scrutiny these claims will receive through litigation will vindicate Lilac Homes," the statement said.

The topic of elder abuse is a front-burner issue in Minnesota's law enforcement and human services circles.

With an office in Moorhead, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center is able to host training and education for investigators, social workers, health care workers and others who deal with seniors who are neglected, abused or financially exploited.

The abusers can be children, spouses, guardians, neighbors or others who may take advantage of elders or vulnerable adults.

The nonprofit group provides victim services, in addition to training authorities to look for red flags.

"One of the law enforcement officers in a previous training said it was like going into a cave, and not really see much, and after the training, it was like we'd given them a flashlight and they start seeing all sorts of red flags," said Shelly Carlson with the Minnesota Elder Justice Center.

For more resources, visit the Minnesota Elder Justice Center online or call one of the hotlines:

To report abuse: 844-880-1574

Ombudsman: 800-657-3591

Minnesota Elder Justice Center: 651-440-9300

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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