WASECA — A Waseca nursing home has sued a resident’s relative, alleging she has said to thousands of people on Facebook that the senior facility is testing residents for COVID-19 in an effort to try to kill them.
The Lake Shore Inn Nursing Home also contends in the lawsuit filed Monday that Renae Groskreutz defamed the 55-bed senior center in a video posted in late July when she said they’re testing without proper permission for what she says is a “fake pandemic” and called on everyone to avoid testing and skip wearing a mask.
Groskreutz, of Waldorf, added to her “smear campaign” by saying that nursing home personnel “don’t need your DNA,” the suit filed in Waseca County District Court pointed out.
According to the suit, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake Shore is proud that not a single resident of its facility has tested positive. ... Groskreutz’s false, defamatory and irresponsible statements, however, threaten public health, Lake Shore’s ability to keep its residents safe, its reputation and its relationships with its residents and their families.”
Groskreutz’s initial video runs nearly seven minutes and had been viewed more than 23,000 times as of midafternoon Tuesday, while three follow-up videos totaling almost 30 minutes in defense of her initial posting have been viewed a collective 10,000 or so times.
In the first video, Groskreutz identified the nursing home where her relative is living while making several points about her objections to the testing there and elsewhere.
“Swabbing the nursing home residents and the memory care residents is not going to stop whatever little fake pandemic they have going on. Yes, there is a virus. They haven’t had a case at the nursing home, so why are you invading my aunt’s body?”
She also pleaded with video viewers to defy health officials and refuse to be tested for COVID-19 if asked and to forgo wearing a mask, which helps stymie the spread of the deadly virus.
“They are wanting to kill our elderly. ... Do not get tested. They don’t need your DNA. ... We are being kept away from (elderly relatives) for a fake pandemic, people.”
Groskreutz and her attorney both told the Star Tribune on Tuesday that her allegations were directed at health and public policymakers in general and not toward Lake Shore Inn Nursing Home specifically.
“What the purpose is of a lawsuit, I really don’t understand,” said attorney John Hamer, who added he intends to ask the court to dismiss the suit. “Someone getting sued over putting their opinion on Facebook is ridiculous.”
The suit seeks at least $250,000 in damages and a court order for Groskreutz to take down the videos. However, the facility’s attorney offered to Groskreutz that the suit would be dropped if she removed the videos and said she was wrong about her allegations against the home.
She refused, said Pete Madel, who runs the center, which has been in the family for 60 years.
“I would certainly be amenable” to dropping the suit under those conditions, Madel said Tuesday afternoon. “I just want it to go away.”
Groskreutz said in an interview Tuesday with the Star Tribune that “it was not my video; it was God’s video. God put some righteous anger in my soul. And until God tells me something different … the video is staying up.”
Groskreutz said she’s troubled by what she said was a lack of notification to family on behalf of her great aunt, who is in her 80s and described by Groskreutz as having some memory problems.
The nursing home’s suit outlined in detail the various notification steps it took before going ahead with testing all residents who agreed on their own or through a relative or power of attorney.
“When I call her and tell her not to take the test,” Groskreutz said, “(it’s) extremely hard for her to wrap her head around that. … I’m very thankful she refused it.”
As the viewer tallies for the videos climb, Madel said, he continues to hear from people about Groskreutz’s allegations against his facility, which currently cares for 38 residents.
“In a small town, things spread real fast,” he said. “I’ve been amazed at the number of people contacting me wondering whether I knew what was being said.”