Monday, June 12, 2017

"What public purpose does it serve to keep investigations of HMOs secret? She asked that question of (Dayton aide) Lauren Gilchrist three times. I’ll get back to you, she said."

Why does the state keep healthcare investigations secret?

Sheila Van Pelt's efforts to change the situation will be a depressingly familiar story to anyone who has tried to get the ear of Gov. Mark Dayton or the state legislature.

From the Strib.

It began nearly seven years ago, after Van Pelt walked into an assisted-living center and found her mother suffering a catastrophic stroke. Sheila Anne Pietig died six months later. She was 87.

Since then, Van Pelt has filed multiple complaints about what she saw as a failure of basic care. No provider or investigator has reached the same conclusion, but Van Pelt has not been able to see the full results of those inquiries.

Along the way, Van Pelt concluded that this is a systematic problem.

“It’s not just about me, or my mom’s situation,” Van Pelt said. “She’s a sacrificial lamb.”

Here's my favorite part.

Eleven days later, Van Pelt was waiting outside a hearing room when she spotted Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. She knew he didn’t want to talk to her. He had sent her an e-mail in April saying that the department would no longer answer her e-mails or calls.

She placed her body between Ehlinger and the door. He walked past her. What about the four data practices requests I’ve filed? she asked. She stayed with him, her digital recorder rolling. “Our attorneys have given you feedback and informed you that we are not going to be responding,” Ehlinger said.

He was moving fast, down the 36 steps of the grand staircase, then back around the hallway. She would not let him go. “I respectfully ask you to at least be respectful of me. You’re not. You’re running and hiding.” They reached the doorway to the stairwell for the garage. Van Pelt gave up her pursuit.

She was shaking.

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