Abuse findings in Iowa care facilities result in fines of $325 to $500

By: - April 13, 2023 4:22 pm

Since Jan. 1, at least eight Iowa nursing homes have been cited for violations related to resident abuse. (Photo by Getty Images)

Iowa nursing homes and care centers are routinely fined as little as $325 for regulatory violations related to the physical and verbal abuse of residents.

While many other types of nursing home violations trigger federal fines that can lead to penalties of up to $10,000, resident abuse violations are often subject to a state fine of $500. In some cases, the facilities haven’t appealed the $500 penalties, so they were automatically reduced to $325.

Since Jan. 1, at least eight Iowa nursing homes have been cited for violations related to resident abuse.

Among the findings of state inspectors:

Good Samaritan Home, Algona: On Jan. 1, a registered nurse at the home allegedly forced a resident into a dining room chair and then dragged the resident by the arms of the chair across the room. When the resident grabbed the hood of the nurse’s sweatshirt, she ripped the nurse’s necklace away. The nurse then told the resident, “You broke my necklace with my dead dog’s name on it, you witch.”

Spurgeon Manor, Dallas Center: Last December, a nurse aide reported to her superiors that a male aide had struck a combative female resident who had dementia and severely impaired cognitive skills. State inspectors reported the resident had swung at the male aide, who said, “Don’t hit me,” and then “smacked her back” hard enough that a witness saw the resident’s body move in response.

Prairie Hills Assisted Living, Tipton: In late November 2022, a male resident of the home was found in the apartment of a female resident. The female resident was lying in bed, with her undergarments removed,  and the male resident was pulling at her pubic hair, causing the woman to cry out in pain. The male resident had been sexually inappropriate in the past, the staff told inspectors. A few weeks earlier, the man was seen kissing a female resident and touching her lower pelvic area. Several days before that incident, the same man was seen putting his hand down the back of a female resident’s pants.

Grundy Care Center, Grundy Center: In February, a nurse aide reported that a fellow aide had raised his voice at a female resident, was verbally aggressive, and told the woman to shut up. “That man was mean to me,” the resident reportedly told inspectors. “I was scared … He got close to my face and moved around like he was angry.” The incident occurred while the two workers were trying to get the resident ready for bed and the resident asked for a magazine. The male aide reportedly got in the resident’s face and in a raised voice told her, “No, we are not giving you a magazine,” and then told the resident to “shut up.”

Pillar of Cedar Valley, Waterloo: In January, the state cited the facility for the violation of failing to ensure clients received the necessary support. That violation stemmed from an incident last September in which a 36-year-old male resident of the home was found to have engaged in sex with a 17-year-old female resident who had post-traumatic stress disorder, a moderate intellectual disability and suicidal tendencies. The two residents had “performed sex acts on each other” on a patio at the facility, according to inspectors.

The home’s administrators had remained unaware of the incident until one resident’s teacher notified them days later. At the time of the incident, the staff had been directed to keep the male resident in their sight at all times, and to let him onto the patio only when workers were present.

Windsor Manor Assisted Living, Grinnell: Last December, a worker reported seeing a co-worker, who would sometimes yell at residents, grab one resident by the face, resulting in bruising. The accused worker acknowledged doing so, saying it was done to get the resident’s attention.

Another employee reported a separate incident from November 2022 in which a different worker grabbed a resident’s wrists and put them behind her back and would not release them, leaving bruises on both wrists. One resident reported feeling unsafe, saying she did not want to go to her assisted-living apartment alone as she was afraid of being hurt by a male employee of the home.

Two of the residents in the home’s memory care unit had reported being assaulted or hurt by a male employee who worked evenings, with one telling the staff twice that she wanted to be placed “somewhere safe” away from the worker. According to inspectors, one employee provided a written statement indicating a few of the memory care tenants were “popping up” with bruises on their cheeks, wrists, arms and legs.

Accura Healthcare, Knoxville: During a January interview with inspectors, a female resident reported that two female employees were rough with her when they got her up in the morning. She allegedly said the two workers hurt her “a little bit,” but she was not injured. A housekeeper told inspectors the woman had told her the workers were too rough, and so she relayed the concern to the administrator. The administrator told inspectors she would have relayed the concerns to the state as potential abuse, but denied the concerns were ever reported to her.

One Vision Oak House, Fort Dodge: An employee told inspectors that one of the home’s direct support professionals would yell at a 25- year-old male resident who had severe intellectual disabilities and order the man to “come here.”

Another direct support professional would allegedly block the door to the home’s “sensory room,” with the resident inside, to prevent the man from leaving. While inside the room, the man continually jumped and screamed while trying to get out. The employee who talked to inspectors said she reported three such incidents involving three different direct support professionals. The home was cited for failing to report allegations of abuse to the state.

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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.