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Assisted living center fined $6,000 after resident dies

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Assisted living center fined $6,000 after resident dies

Mar 01, 2024 | 5:08 pm ET
By Clark Kauffman
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Assisted living center fined $6,000 after resident dies
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Northridge Village in Ames, Iowa. (Photo via Google Earth)

An assisted living facility in Ames has been fined $6,000 for a regulatory violation tied to the death of a resident.

In the past three years, three resident deaths have led to state citations against the Northridge Village complex in Ames, which includes both a nursing home and a state-licensed assisted living center.

According to state inspectors, a female resident of the assisted living center returned to the facility from a shopping trip at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. Over the weekend, the woman’s family made several attempts to contact her, but calls to her cell phone went unanswered.

On Sunday, Dec. 31, at about 5 p.m., a relative of the woman went to Northridge Village to check on her and found that her apartment door was locked. With the assistance of the staff, the relative entered the apartment and found the woman on the floor next to her bed. The woman was conscious and reported that she might have broken her ribs.

At a nearby hospital, she was diagnosed with dehydration, seven cracked ribs and atrial fibrillation. The woman was moved to a hospice unit and died within a matter of days.

The director of the facility allegedly told inspectors the woman’s 24-hour emergency response pendant, which is a regulatory requirement for residents of Iowa’s assisted living centers, did not function properly. According to the inspectors, the pendant had been “deactivated by mistake,” although the inspectors’ report doesn’t state who deactivated the device or how that occurred.

According to the report, Northridge Village “could not determine the exact time and date the pendant had been deactivated, but estimated it happened sometime after Christmas.”

The inspectors’ report gives no indication as to when the woman might have fallen over the weekend or how long she remained on the floor before being found. She had been a resident of Northridge Village for nine weeks and had paid for the independent-living level of service, which included no routine welfare checks, according to state records.

In November 2021, the Northridge Village skilled-nursing facility was cited for the death of a resident who fell to the floor during an improper transfer in or out of bed. In November 2022, the nursing facility was cited for a death that was tied to an untreated urinary tract infection.