Department of Health: Allegations substantiated against former St. John’s employee

Published 6:52 pm Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Minnesota Department of Health has found allegations of maltreatment were substantiated by a former employee earlier this year at St. John’s Lutheran Community on Fountain Lake.

The Office of Health Facility Complaints investigative report was made public this week on the organization’s website after a Department of Health investigation.

The former employee, Samantha Weldon, 24, was a certified nursing assistant and has since been terminated from employment at the facility. She also faces one count of disorderly conduct by a caregiver against a vulnerable adult, a gross misdemeanor, in Freeborn County District Court.

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The Department of Health report states Weldon repeatedly called the resident vulgar names and at one time asked the resident, “Do you think you have a hole in your brain?” She also placed her hands over the resident’s face, one on each side, and tapped back and forth in a slapping motion.

The report concluded the treatment of the resident was “disparaging, derogatory, humiliating and harassing.”

The resident was admitted to the facility with diagnosis of a stroke, aphasia and paralysis on the left side of the body, the report stated. The resident also had diabetes, major depression disorder and generalized anxiety, along with behavioral disturbances and cognitive deficits due to a vascular disorder. The person required assistance of two staff with all activities of daily living.

The investigation included interviews with staff on many levels. The victim had no memory of the incident.

The report stated another nursing assistant had reported the incident to nursing management and had made a cell phone recording of Weldon using obscenities directly toward the victim as she and the employee were helping clean him.

The resident can be heard telling Weldon to “get off me” and appeared distraught. Weldon reportedly continues taunting the resident with remarks such as “What’s your problem?”

The other employee said during an interview that she had witnessed Weldon the day before the recording hit the resident repeatedly on the temples on his face. She stated when she asked Weldon to stop, Weldon replied “he likes it; he hits us all the time.”

The following evening, the employee was assigned to work with Weldon again and captured the cell phone video. She said she again asked Weldon to stop, but Weldon reportedly “just shrugged her shoulders and walked away,” the report stated.

The employee said Weldon’s aggression was focused on the one resident and she had not seen her treat other residents that way.

When Weldon was interviewed, she acknowledged it was her in the recording. She said the resident had been demonstrating behaviors while she was trying to provide care.

She stated “she just lost it” and acknowledged she called the resident names. She said he asked her to get out and she probably should have just left. She said she did not recall slapping the resident but was aware of the allegation.

The report stated St. John’s was issued a correction order regarding the vulnerable adult’s right to be free from maltreatment. The facility also provided all-staff education related to the vulnerable adult act and reporting process.

In the criminal case, Weldon is slated to appear for a plea hearing Friday.