In a rare instance of administrator accountability, the Iowa Board of Nursing Home Administrators has charged two of its own with professional incompetence and negligence in the manner they handled issues following alleged sexual abuse at their facilities. Both home administrators face possible sanctions following the manner in which they attempted to conceal abusive events at their facilities.
Recently reported in the Des Moines Register, one of the nursing home administrators facing disciplinary action was responsible for overseeing the Abington on Grand, an Ames, IA facility. The problem stems from male resident who was admitted to the facility by court order. Despite the fact that the man was consistently acting inappropriately and having sexual relations with incompetent patients, a ‘charge nurse’ simply instructed her subordinates not to interfere with the with the acts.
The other nursing home administrator was responsible for overseeing Windmill Manor in Coralville, Iowa. Similar to the incident at the Abington, a male patient was given free access to the Alzheimer’s wing of the facility where he repeatedly engaged in sexual relations with an incompetent patient. While the administrator at the time was aware of the incidents, he never reported the occurrences to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals as required pursuant to Iowa law.
To make the situation at Windmill even worse, the facilities medical director at the facility advised officials that there was no need for concern and that the encounter involved “two consenting adults in a supervised room, having a romantic relationship, holding hand and making a very human connection with no injury to either party.” The statement was made despite reports from the nursing home staff that the female patient (with dementia) was so distraught following the incident that she needed a sedative and consolation from the staff to calm down.
Given the extremely disturbing nature of these incidents, I hope the message of accountability is transferred to other nursing home administrators who may rely upon the fact that their managerial responsibilities somehow absolve them of responsibility of the events that occur during their tenure. As a nursing home lawyer, I am always disappointed by the failure of many managerial level employees to accept any responsibility for offensive acts or patient injuries that occur at their facility. Hopefully, as administrators begin to face professional consequences for their acts, similar accountability in civil matters will follow.
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