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Iowa Nursing Home Accused of Neglect Three Times in Four Months

Nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys report that the Golden Age Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Centerville, Iowa has been fined for three separate incidents of neglect since September 2012. All three incidents resulted in resident deaths.

The most recent event occurred in November 2012, when a 91-year-old woman, Mable Stafford, died of pneumonia. Stafford’s daughter, Paula, told the Des Moines Register that she asked a nurse to notify a doctor about a change of medication for her mother. When the nurse refused, Paula contacted the facility’s director of nursing, who notified a doctor and got a new medication order for Stafford, who was having troubling breathing. Two days later, in deteriorating health, Paula again had to ask the nurses to take her mother to the emergency room. When Stafford arrived at the hospital, she was largely unresponsive and clearly in severe respiratory distress.

At the hospital Stafford was diagnosed with pneumonia, and succumbed to the illness four days later. Hospital physicians told state inspectors that Golden Gate never informed them of Stafford’s declining state of health. Paula affirms that it was only through her constant insistence that her mother ever saw a doctor and went to the hospital. She also mentioned that many of the Golden Gate residents are never checked up on.

One month earlier, 89-year-old resident Freda King was, in two separate incidents, found on the floor of Golden Gate in severe pain. She suffered two hip breaks in a four-week period. King’s family, much like Stafford’s, noticed her deteriorating health, and demanded she be admitted to the hospital. There, King was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, severe dehydration, malnourishment, and dangerously high blood-sodium levels. Five days later, King died. Hospital physicians again told state inspectors that they were never notified of King’s worsening condition.

Urinary tract infections, malnutrition, and severe dehydration are all enormous red flags that nursing home employees are neglecting their residents. Some residents are unable to feed themselves, which is why they were admitted to a long-term care facility in the first place, and require regular and consistent care to maintain their health. If residents are not monitored, they can forget to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, or perform basic sanitary needs. Freda King was clearly left to fend for herself, unmonitored and uncared for, and died as the result.

In September 2012 Golden Gate was fined $8,000 after the death of a 64-year-old resident. Barbara Logsdon passed away due to severe respiratory distress. Two of Logsdon’s children worked at Golden Gate in the laundry and housekeeping departments, and repeatedly requested aid for their mother on the morning of her death. The staff, however, failed to provide timely interventions for Logsdon while she was choking, directly contributing to her death.

The facility was fined $15,000 in connection to the deaths of Stafford and King. Golden Age is a for-profit nursing home run by Patricia and Stanley Birchem. The couple plans to appeal the $15,000 fine, saying that the two deaths were absolved or resolved, and that the fine is unfounded.

In the summer of 2012, state inspectors investigated the facility. The inspectors issued a 106-page report revealing, in detail, dozens of standard minimum-care violations. The report specifically mentioned Barbara Logsdon, four months before she died, stating that staff failed to give her showers and medicine and did not conduct her rehabilitation exercises. Among the violations, Golden Gate was cited for failing to: develop and follow standard care plans, offer routine treatments, provide residents with activities, properly give out medication, give showers, prevent bed sores, provide adequate nutrition, notify doctors about resident’s health, and prevent infections.

Alarmingly, the total fine after the state inspection report was only $7,000. Golden Gate fostered an environment of constant abuse and neglect, and should have been disciplined accordingly. When nursing homes such as Golden Gate maintain substandard conditions for its residents, devastating consequences result. Elder abuse attorneys remind the public that this level of care is unacceptable, and the victims of such abuse have important legal rights. A nursing home negligence lawsuit will help ensure the facility is rightfully penalized for its actions and will prevent such disastrous incidents from happening again.