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State: Nursing home dumped alleged rape victim at homeless shelter

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State: Nursing home dumped alleged rape victim at homeless shelter

Dec 08, 2023 | 4:51 pm ET
By Clark Kauffman
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State: Nursing home dumped alleged rape victim at homeless shelter
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Correctionville Specialty Care in Woodbury County is owned and managed by Care Initiatives of West Des Moines. (Photo via Google Earth)

An Iowa nursing home resident was evicted and dumped at a homeless shelter after complaining that an employee of the home raped her, according to state records.

State inspectors say a female resident of Correctionville Specialty Care in Woodbury County complained in October that a male certified nurse aide had forced her to perform a sex act on him and had sent her a video of him pleasuring himself. The woman allegedly provided law enforcement officials with a copy of the video.

The care facility retaliated against the woman, state inspectors allege, by evicting her from the home on short notice and then dumping her at a homeless shelter with no notice to the shelter and without her medical records.

Despite the allegation of sexual abuse, the home’s corporate owners then failed to prevent the man from going to work in other Iowa care facilities they owned, placing him in close contact with other vulnerable, elderly Iowans, inspectors allege.

The company, Care Initiatives of West Des Moines, is also accused of retaliating against a worker who confronted the administrator about the need to report the alleged rape to authorities.

As a result of the state’s findings, the home’s residents were deemed to be in immediate jeopardy. The state has proposed $45,500 in state fines, although those penalties have yet to be imposed. It’s not clear whether criminal charges have been filed in the case.

In a written statement, Care Initiatives said it investigated the “allegations of inappropriate behavior between a team member and a prior resident. We take these matters very seriously and are actively cooperating with the Department of Inspections, Appeals & Licensing as well as area law enforcement in their investigation.

“Additionally, we launched an extensive internal investigation into this matter and have taken immediate action to ensure the safety of our residents. Involved parties are no longer employed by Care Initiatives.”

The company said some form of “additional action” has been taken to protect residents and that its “top priority is the care and well-being of our residents, and we do not tolerate any behavior that compromises their trust and confidence.”

John Hale, a consultant and advocate for Iowa seniors, said “the story of what allegedly happened to this resident is absolutely sickening. It’s simply incredible that a nursing home and its parent corporation would allegedly have such an awful response to a rape allegation, allow an alleged rapist to continue to be employed, deal so inhumanely with a resident, and would suspend a facility employee who tried to do the right thing.”

Hale also questioned the state’s response to the situation. “How the governor or any state legislator can sleep at night knowing that this kind of alleged cruelty exists in an Iowa nursing home is beyond me,” he said. “If this doesn’t serve as a wake-up call to take action, nothing will.”

Resident shared video with police 

According to state inspectors, the alleged rape victim is not cognitively impaired, but was being treated for numerous physical issues such as lung cancer, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes and anxiety. Facility records indicate that due to her medical issues, the resident was almost always in pain.

State records indicate that on Nov. 1, deputies from the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office interviewed the woman about the allegations of sexual abuse.

The woman reported that during her time as a resident of Correctionville Specialty Care, a male nurse aide at the home had once kissed the back of her neck and, on another occasion, kissed her feet.

On one particular evening in the first or second week of October, she alleged, she had gone outside to smoke a cigarette and the aide offered to let her smoke in his car. He then pushed her wheelchair to his vehicle, which was parked close to a stand of trees along the parking lot. Once inside the vehicle, the aide allegedly pulled a bottle of Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey from under his car seat and told her he had been drinking since the beginning of the workday.

The woman alleged the aide put on some loud music, told her he was songwriter, and then grabbed the back of her neck, pulled her hair, and forced her to perform oral sex on him while seemingly making a video recording of the encounter on his phone.

Afterward, the woman told authorities, she went directly to her room, spoke to no one, and the two never discussed the incident.

The woman allegedly said she initially felt safe with the aide as he had been nice to her. She said she thought that she may have given him the wrong impression when she sent him a text message reminding him to send her an unspecified video, after which she received a video of the aide pleasuring himself.

The woman provided the sheriff’s office with a copy of the video, according to state officials.

Resident gave two employees cash

In reviewing the contents of the alleged victim’s phone, investigators confirmed her statement that she sometimes paid the aide to purchase cigarettes for her. The phone showed that on Oct. 16, $10 was transferred from the woman’s account to the aide’s account, with another $21 sent two days later.

On Oct. 22, $22 was sent from the woman’s account to another nurse aide who worked in the facility. That aide later told inspectors she accepted the money for the purchase of soda pop and food and knew that doing so was “not right.”

A dietary aide told inspectors that on the night of Oct. 23, the woman informed her that the male aide had recently taken her to his car and forced her to perform oral sex, adding that she did not want the dietary aide to tell anyone.

The dietary aide told inspectors the resident was trembling when she relayed the story and discussed the cash transfers and the video she had received. When another employee of the home approached the dietary aide and the resident, the dietary aide asked the resident, “Can I tell her?” and the resident consented.

The next morning, on Oct. 24, the two workers reported the conversation to the home’s administrator. The administrator allegedly suspended the accused aide, who denied any sexual activity had taken place, and then confronted the alleged victim, accusing her of providing sexual favors to the staff in return for cigarettes – an allegation the resident denied, saying she “would never do anything so vile.”

After that exchange, inspectors allege, a note was added to the woman’s file at the home, indicating she had a behavior problem that involved manipulating staff and making up stories. That note appeared to contradict a previous assessment of the resident, completed just a few weeks earlier, that indicated the resident did not make accusatory statements against others.

State inspectors interviewed a regional coordinator for Care Initiatives who allegedly stated she did not know anything about any allegations of abuse. However, a registered nurse at the home allegedly told inspectors that when the coordinator came to a leadership meeting the day the abuse was reported, the group discussed the allegations of rape.

The care facility’s office manager later told inspectors that she was suspended after insisting the alleged incident had to be reported to the authorities. The office manager also stated that she had sent a text to a Care Initiatives regional manager late in the day on Oct. 24, and suggested the matter should be reported.

She told inspectors she later got a call from corporate managers indicating the alleged victim had recanted the allegations so there was no need for it to be reported. The office manager told inspectors that when she reported for work the next day, her office was in a shambles and she was suspended due “missing orders” of an unspecified nature.

It later turned out that the “recantation” was a written note in which the resident denied trading sexual favors for cigarettes, according to state inspectors.

Alleged victim dumped at homeless shelter

Within hours of learning of the alleged rape, the administrator at Correctionville Specialty Care allegedly informed the resident she had to leave. A nurse aide who worked at the home told inspectors the administrator yelled at the resident and gave her 30 minutes pack up her belongings in preparation for her eviction the next day.

The aide told inspectors the woman was crying and shaking, but then went around the facility to say goodbye to other residents and staff. A nurse employed by the home later told inspectors she was concerned as the eviction had taken place “very abruptly” and the facility had recently changed the woman’s hypertension medications.

On Oct. 25, a cab was summoned to the nursing home to pick up the woman. According to inspectors, the cab driver initially dropped the woman off at a safehouse intended for domestic violence victims, but the safehouse refused to accept her. The driver later told inspectors he did not know what to do with the woman, so he called the nursing home and was instructed to take her to a homeless shelter.

Later that day, a housekeeping staffer at the home used her personal vehicle to transport some of the resident’s remaining belongings to the shelter.

Inspectors later asked the social worker at Correctionville Specialty Care whether she had fully informed the staff at the shelter of the resident’s medical needs before sending her there, to which the social worker allegedly replied, “Yes and no.”

The social worker reportedly said she hadn’t sent the resident’s medical information to the shelter since no homeless person off the street would arrive at a shelter with medical records in hand.

A worker at the homeless shelter told state officials the resident had been dropped off there “with no paperwork and no phone call,” adding that the shelter typically didn’t accept people coming directly from a hospital or nursing home.

The shelter employee told inspectors that within hours of the woman being dropped off they had to call 911 due to her shaking, falling and appearing unstable. The next day, the resident returned to the shelter from the hospital and a friend came and picked her up.

The shelter worker told inspectors that when she called the social worker at Correctionville Specialty Care about the situation, the social worker indicated the nursing home was unwilling to take the woman back “because she made allegations against staff.”

Accused worker: ‘I am keeping my magnetism.’

According to state inspectors, the accused aide denied having any kind of relationship with the resident and said the administrator of the home had never suggested there were allegations of sexual interaction with a resident.

The inspectors reported that during their interview with the man, he chuckled and said that he had once worked as an “intelligence officer” and had learned to record things, adding that he may have a recording of the meeting between himself and the administrator at the home.

“I am keeping my magnetism, I can overcome obstacles,” the aide allegedly told inspectors. “I am a stellar worker.”

The aide reportedly said that after he was suspended from the Correctionville facility due to the cash transfers, Care Initiatives begged him to work at various sister facilities operated by the company – and he mentioned three specific homes where he worked immediately after his suspension. He allegedly questioned why, if he had done something wrong, the company kept him working with nursing home residents.

Corporate time sheets confirmed the man “continued to work with a vulnerable elderly population” in Care Initiatives facilities on Oct. 24, Oct. 28, and Oct. 30, according to state inspectors.

State records indicate that around the time of the alleged rape, the accused worker, who identified himself to inspectors as a Navy veteran, was alleged to have recorded his interactions with a Correctionville resident without the woman’s consent or knowledge. His personnel file lacks any indication the facility addressed the incident with him, inspectors said.

Other workers at the Correctionville home told inspectors they saw the video of the male aide pleasuring himself. One worker told inspectors the aide sometimes slept in his car overnight in the facility’s parking lot and she described him as “flirty” with some of the staff.

$45,500 in state fines proposed

According to the inspectors, Care Initiatives’ regional director of nursing told them the company’s leadership team had a “rapid response” phone call on Oct. 24 regarding the cash transfers to employees, but that there was never any mention in the call of an alleged rape.

She allegedly told inspectors the rapid response team did not get complete information, or accurate information, from the facility’s administrator – and that if she had known all the details of the case, other decisions would have been made.

The Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing has cited the home for failing to adequately investigate or report to the state the allegation of rape. The home’s administrators, inspectors said, “only addressed the exchange of money but minimized and failed to fully investigate the allegations of sexual abuse.”

The department has also cited the home for dropping off the alleged rape victim at a homeless shelter, calling it “retribution” for the report of rape. “The facility discharged (the woman) abruptly after allegations of abuse to a homeless shelter that did not know of her transfer,” the inspectors reported. “The homeless shelter did not have nurses on staff to meet her medical needs and they did not have any staff overnight. The homeless shelter transferred (the woman) to the hospital as she could not safely remain in the homeless shelter.”

The department has proposed $8,500 state fines for failing to report resident abuse, tripled to $25,500 due to it being a repeat violation; $8,500 in fines for failing to protect residents from abuse; $6,000 in fines for retaliating against the alleged rape victim and the office manager; and $5,500 for the involuntary transfer of the alleged rape victim to a homeless shelter.

All of the proposed state fines are being held in suspension while the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services considers the imposition of federal penalties.

The 39-bed Correctionville Specialty Care currently has a one-star rating from CMS — the lowest possible score — for both overall quality and its inspection results. The most recent federal fine imposed against the care facility was in February for $31,951.

The home has a history of regulatory issues. In July 2022, the state cited the home for failure to provide adequate supervision to protect residents and 17 other violations.

In March 2023, the state proposed, and suspended, a $9,250 fine for again failing to provide adequate supervision to protect residents. The suspended fine was tripled to $27,750 due it being a repeat violation.

In May, the state proposed, and suspended, an $8,250 fine for failing to prevent the abuse of a resident by certified nurse aide.

In August, the proposed a $10,000 fine for failure to provide adequate supervision to protect residents, and tripled the potential penalty to $30,000 due to it being the third high-level, Class 1 violation of that type during the previous 13 months. An additional $500 penalty was proposed for failing to report an incident involving a resident of the home who was found outside at night, near a state highway, in a wheelchair.