Capital Clicks

Death at Dubuque care facility triggers $10,000 fine

By: - May 6, 2022 5:15 pm

A Dubuque care facility for people with disabilities has been fined $10,000 as a result of a resident’s death in a wheelchair accident. (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A Dubuque care facility for people with disabilities has been fined $10,000 as a result of a resident’s death in a wheelchair accident.

Court records and state inspection reports indicate that 49-year-old Jamison K. Daniel died March 21 during an outing for residents of the Hills & Dales care facility where he lived. Hills & Dales is licensed by the state as an intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

According to state inspectors, a worker at the facility reported that residents of the center were taken to the riverfront that day to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. Upon arrival, the staff unhooked the tie-downs used to lock in place all of the residents’ wheelchairs.

Two workers were directing other residents toward the vehicle’s wheelchair lift as Daniel moved toward another door of the vehicle in his wheelchair. He then tumbled out of the door toward the sidewalk below.

Paramedics were called to the scene, but by the time they arrived, Daniel had no pulse, according to inspectors. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The cause of death, according to the death certificate, was blunt force injury to the neck.

One of the workers who was with Daniel and the other residents that morning told inspectors that in her 18 years of employment at the center, she had never been trained to keep each resident’s tie-downs in place until the staff was ready to assist them in exiting the vehicle.

The home was cited by the state for failing to provide adequate direction to the staff to ensure client safety.

Daniel had lived at Hills & Dales for 41 years, since he was 8 years old. State records indicate that in addition to an intellectual disability, Daniel had cerebral palsy.

His mother, Deborah Daniel, said Friday that she and her husband are thankful that Hills & Dales was there for her son.

“He received excellent care there,” she said. “He was on an outing, for an activity, which we gave our permission for, when this happened. It was just an accident.”

Facility fined in separate abuse case

In December, Hills & Dales was fined $500 for failing to adequately respond to situation involving resident abuse. According to inspectors who reviewed video of the incident, on June 14, 2021, a personal assistant employed by the home entered the room of a resident, described by state inspectors as a minor, who had urinated and defecated on the floor.

The video reportedly shows the personal assistant exclaiming, “What the hell?” and, “F—ing hell!” When the resident tried to walk out of the room, the worker allegedly grabbed the youth by the arm, pushed him back inside, and said, “Get your butt back in there,” before closing the door. Behind the closed door to the room, the personal assistant could be heard yelling at the resident, “Knock it off.”

A fellow worker who witnessed the incident didn’t report it for two weeks, after which the personal assistant was fired, according 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. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.