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Worker at Nelson Gables stole money from clients, according to health investigators

A staff person at Nelson Gables Senior Care in Alexandria admitted stealing money from five clients and has since been fired.

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released details of its investigation, which concluded that the employee committed financial exploitation of vulnerable adults when she took money out of residents' purses or rooms without their permission.

Knute Nelson, which fully cooperated in the investigation, released the following statement:

"The safety of our residents is our first priority and we take many steps to ensure their safety every day. Unfortunately, one employee violated the trust of our residents and she was terminated immediately. We have worked closely with our local law enforcement, residents and their families to report the incident openly and regain their trust."

After clients reported that they were missing medication and money, Nelson Gables set up a camera in a client's room, the MDH noted in its investigation. Last November, a staff member was videotaped stealing three $20 bills from a purse.

When confronted with the evidence, the staff member admitted stealing money from some clients at the facility but denied taking any narcotics. She said she acted independently.

Nelson Gables indicated that $1,461 was known to be missing from 12 clients.

When interviewed by the MDH, the employee said she stole money from five clients "that she could recall." Four of the five had reported missing money to the facility.

The employee said she started to steal because she "needed money" and then continued to steal it because she had a compulsion to do so, MDH investigators said.

The employee told the MDH she has no idea how much money she had taken.

The employee was terminated immediately, according to Knute Nelson, which also notified local law enforcement to help determine the extent of the thefts. Charges against the employee, who was not named in the investigation, are pending.

Knute Nelson management said it informed its residents and families about the thefts, and had all of its employees review policies and procedures to prevent thefts in the future.

All residents who were impacted were reimbursed in full by Knute Nelson. "Although it was the actions of one individual, we felt it was important to reimburse everyone who was affected," Knute Nelson said in a statement.

All employees are required to successfully pass a criminal background check and complete mandatory, regular training about safeguarding residents, the nursing facility said.

The MDH investigation determined that Nelson Gables had vulnerable adult policies in place at the time of the incident and had provided the necessary training to its staff, including the employee who stole the money.

The MDH noted that Nelson Gables was found to be in compliance with all state licensing rules and statutes involving the care the vulnerable adults.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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