Hundreds of Iowa Nursing Home Complaints Not Investigated for Months
The Iowa Department of Investigations and Appeals (DIA) is the state’s regulatory agency responsible for nursing home facility inspections. Family members concerned that a loved one is being neglected, abused or receiving substandard care can submit a complaint to this agency.
However, if the agency does not investigate a complaint for months or even longer, how can they find out what did or did not happen? With such significant delays before any investigation happens, the residents and staff members mentioned in the complaints are often no longer at the facility.
How Many Complaints Have Been Uninvestigated for Months?
According to a report in the Iowa Capital Dispatch, there were 410 Iowa nursing home complaints. Of those complaints received, 201 – almost half – had been awaiting further action by the DIA for over 120 days. According to the DIA, there were another 24 pending complaints that are over a year old.
Older Complaints May Get Canceled With No Investigation
Astonishingly, federal officials have given states the green light to close out many pending complaints even when there has been no investigation. These uninvestigated complaints simply get classified as a withdrawn or expired complaint.
Outcomes of Real Life Complaints
The DIA claims that the pandemic pushed them into a backlog of uninvestigated complaints. Just a couple of the complaints the Iowa agency received include:
Exira Care Center: One Dead Resident and Four Complaints
In April 2021, a female resident at the Audubon County facility was discovered lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The woman was alive but had suffered a head injury during a fall. Just two months later, the same resident was again found injured and lying in a pool of blood. Unfortunately, by the time the woman was found this time, she was deceased.
The DIA inspectors did not visit the facility or investigate either incident for months. In fact, the incident remained uninvestigated until May 2022, 11 months after the resident died.
The DIA determined there were a total of 11 regulatory violations. Three of the four complaints submitted were substantiated. The facility was assessed with an $18,000 fine.
Garden View Care Center in Shenandoah: Eight Complaints
DIA inspectors visited the Shenandoah facility in April 2021 after receiving eight complaints, seven of which were substantiated. A care worker at Garden View relayed how she witnessed an aide treating a female resident. The aide dragged the woman backwards out of her room and across the floor. After being pulled into another room, the aide then told the resident to “Sit down and shut the f-up.”
State inspectors cited the facility with a total of 16 regulatory violations, which included failure to:
- Maintain a sufficient number of nursing staff
- Protect residents at the facility from abuse
- Provide physician-prescribed oxygen to residents
- Maintain sanitary conditions at the facility
- Properly groom and bathe residents
- Appropriately clean wounds and change dressings
Federal officials initially imposed a $316,140 fine. However, since Garden View did not appeal the fine, it was automatically reduced to $205,491.
The Case of Connie Roundy at Rosa Vista in Woodbine
Kimberly Jacob’s grandmother was a former schoolteacher, farm wife and seamstress living at Rosa Vista. In January 2020, Jacob filed a complaint about the facility due to concerns about the poor quality of care her grandmother was receiving.
Although Jacob received a fairly quick acknowledgement of the complaint, just days after filing it, the complaint was not investigated for 14 months. By that time, Jacob’s grandmother had already been dead for six months.
Following an investigation, the agency substantiated Jacob’s complaint and cited Rosa Vista with three regulatory violations. However, none of the violations seemed to be related to Connie Roundy’s care and there were no fines assessed against the facility.
Jacob said, “DIA has a responsibility to execute investigations in a timely manner. Failure to do so has serious consequences for our most vulnerable population. My grandma was a beautiful human being and she deserved better.”
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If you suspect nursing home negligence or abuse, contact PKSD today for legal help. Your initial consultation is completely free, and there are no upfront costs to pay.
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