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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

MDH requiring retests for nursing assistants tested at two metro sites

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is requiring retesting for 569 people who took tests to become federally qualified nursing assistants at the Inver Hills Community College Center for Professional and Workforce Development and its satellite location at Blue Sky Online in West St. Paul between May 1, 2014, and October 16, 2015. The move comes after investigators found evidence of anomalies in test results associated with the two sites, raising questions about their reliability.

MDH, Inver Hills Community College, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), of which Inver Hills Community College is a part, began an investigation after noticing suspicious patterns in test results. Testing has been discontinued at both locations pending the outcome of the investigation.

Minnesota has more than 55,000 certified nursing assistants in the state, generally providing basic care services to patients in nursing homes, assisted living centers, hospitals and other health care settings. Tasks conducted by nursing assistants may include taking vital signs, making beds, and helping patients with dressing, bathing, and other basic functions. They may also administer medications with proper training and under the supervision of a nurse. To help employers verify the qualifications of potential nursing assistants prior to hiring them, the state and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) maintain a registry of certified nursing assistants. To be added to the registry, prospective workers must pass a written test and a skills test required by the state and CMS.

Although it is not clear which individuals who took the tests at the two locations during the time period of May 2014 to October 2015 may have been impacted by the potential improprieties, MDH is taking the precaution of requiring retests for all who took the tests at those two locations during the time indicated. The workers will not be charged for the retesting.

Nursing assistants who took the tests at these two locations during the time indicated can continue to work, but they will need to retake the tests by no later than March 31, 2016. Any individuals who do not pass the retesting by that date will be ineligible to work as a nursing assistant at a federally certified nursing home or board and care home. In addition, many state licensed employers will not hire individuals who have not passed the test.

"We have an obligation to ensure that these workers meet the basic requirements," said MDH Assistant Commissioner Gil Acevedo. "Since nursing assistants must be supervised and receive specialized training after hiring and prior to working with patients, there is a relatively low risk to patients. Regardless, it is important to re-establish the credentials of these nursing assistants as quickly as possible without causing an undue disruption for workers, employers, or patients."

"We take our role very seriously in ensuring that nursing assistants in Minnesota are able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills," said Inver Hills Community College President Tim Wynes.  "As soon as potential improprieties were noted we suspended our testing services. We now look forward to the results of the investigation and, if needed, improving our processes."

MDH plans to contact affected individuals and their employers to explain the situation and next steps, including the retesting process. Additional recommendations include:

FOR WORKERS

If you took the test and passed it at Inver Hills Community College or its location at Blue Sky Online in West St. Paul between May 1, 2014, and October 16, 2015, you should:

  • Notify your employer;
  • Contact MDH by emailing us at Health.nurseaidetesting@state.mn.us or by calling us at 651-201-4131; and
  • Start preparing to retake the test and watch the MDH website for updates.

FOR EMPLOYERS

  • Determine if your nursing assistants took the test at one of the locations between May 1, 2014, and October 16, 2015.
  • If as an employer you become aware of someone who should retake the test, please contact MDH at Health.nurseaidetesting@state.mn.us; and
  • If you are unsure whether someone needs to retake the test or if you have other questions, please contact MDH.

Workers and employers with questions may contact MDH by email at Health.nurseaidetesting@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-201-4131. More information can also be found on the MDH website at MDH Nursing Assistant Registry.

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