‘He’s going to die:’ Care facility fined $10,000 after resident’s death

By: - March 16, 2023 9:38 am

Courage Homes of Sioux City has been fined $10,000 for the death of a resident. (Photo via Google Earth)

A western Iowa care facility for people with disabilities has been fined $10,000 for contributing to the death of a resident.

Larry Overturf, 65, had a moderate intellectual disability and had lived at Courage Homes, a 45-bed care facility in Sioux City, for three years prior to his death in December 2022.

State inspection records indicate Overturf began refusing meals on Nov. 26 and complained repeatedly of stomach pain over the next four days. A supervisor later told state inspectors that in addition to Overturf’s complaints of stomach pain, his color looked off and he was activating his call-light about every 30 seconds to summon help, which was something he had never done before.

The supervisor told inspectors she grew upset with the nursing staff over their perceived lack of response to the situation and eventually told two registered nurses, “He’s going to die before you finally decide to help him.”

In speaking to inspectors, one of the two nurses acknowledged she spoke to Overturf the evening of Nov. 30, which was the night before he died. She allegedly stated Overturf was weeping while complaining of pain, and acknowledged she was aware he had been complaining of stomach pain for almost a week and that she did not check his vital signs.

According to inspectors, on the night of Nov. 30, Overturf’s use of his call-light prompted a worker to move him out of his room and into a living room area where he could lay on a couch with the call-light out of reach. The worker later told inspectors Overturf “moaned loudly all night” and appeared to be in a lot of pain.

Overturf was found unresponsive early the next morning and was taken to a hospital where he died that afternoon. The cause of death was a twisted or strangulated bowel, according to state records.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals investigated and, citing Overturf’s death, concluded the home had placed residents in immediate jeopardy by failing to respond to residents’ medical needs. The agency fined the home $10,000.

Courage Homes is a state-licensed intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities and is managed by Mid-Step Services.

Overturf grew up in Thornton and over the years had resided at the Eagle Grove Group Home, Opportunity Village in Clear Lake and the Heritage Care and Rehabilitation Center in Mason City. He participated in the Special Olympics, enjoyed church and was a fan of the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins.

His sister, Debra McLarty of Sioux City, said her brother and their mother each moved from Mason City to Sioux City in 2019 so the family could see more of each other.

“It was important for us to be close to him – and it was important for him, too,” she said. “He had a very caring family who loved him very much.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.