The Potluck

Senate to hold hearing on alleged toxic work environment at Hastings veterans home

By: - March 21, 2023 2:26 pm

Photo courtesy of Minnesota House Public Information Services.

The Minnesota Senate on Tuesday evening will hear from staff of the Minnesota Veterans Home in Hastings after complaints surfaced of a toxic work environment and concerns about safety and medical care.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported earlier this month about allegations from current and former workers at the Hastings veterans home that the center had a culture of workplace harassment, bullying and retaliation against people who voiced their concerns. On Sunday, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke announced the firing of deputy commissioner of veterans health care Doug Hughes and administrator of the Hastings veterans home Mike Anderson.

Herke and Hastings veterans home staff are expected to testify at Tuesday’s hearing. 

“I am grateful to see the (Department of Veterans Affairs) acting to address the unacceptable conditions for veterans and their caregivers in Hastings,” said Sen. Erin Murphy, a St. Paul Democrat and chair of the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee. “Our committee and our caucus take seriously the allegations of mismanagement, retaliation and staff turnover, and its impact on the care and the lives of our treasured veterans.”

Staff at the Hastings veterans center say they’ve raised concerns about low staffing levels affecting veterans’ care, the Pioneer Press reported. Many medical staff cover more than one facility, so a resident may need to wait days to receive care unless it’s an emergency.

The House earlier this month passed an infrastructure package — which is funded primarily through general obligation bonds — that included a $78 million allocation from the state to upgrade the Hastings veterans home campus. The bill failed to pass the Senate last week, and the bill has been tabled. 

The Senate’s hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues.