- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MAPLETON, Iowa (AP) - A disabled Navy veteran was dropped off in an unfurnished apartment with no food or medication after being involuntarily discharged by a western Iowa nursing home, according to a state report.

The federal government fined Elmwood Care Centre in Onawa more than $5,700 for its care of 65-year-old John Chedester, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1fkbvdE ). The incident became public last month when state inspectors issued a report on Chedester’s case.

Chedester “was, for all practical purposes, dumped by the care facility into a vacant apartment,” said David Werning, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which investigated the case.

The report found that staff from Elmwood dropped off Chedester on Nov. 1 at an apartment building in Mapleton after he was unable to pay his bill. Staff at the home said Chedester had refused to sign up for Medicaid, which would have covered his costs, and declined home health services, his medications and bottled oxygen when he was discharged.

The apartment building where he was taken had low-income housing and was chosen as staff helped Chedester with the involuntary discharge process. He was given the phone number of his Department of Human Services case worker.

Chedester had been admitted at Elmwood in late July after state officials determined he could no longer take care of himself. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and later showed signs of disorganized thinking and incoherent conversation. He required daily supervision, the report said.

Chedester, who suffered from a blood infection, congestive heart failure, insulin-dependent diabetes and other ailments at the time, was eventually discovered by a neighbor, Kathleen James. She called an administrator at Elmwood, Stephanie Morris.

“I was not nice when I called,” she said. “I said, ‘What are you people thinking by dropping off this man with no food or medicine or furniture?’”

Morris is no longer employed at Elmwood and could not be reached for comment.

James later contacted the Monona County Sheriff’s Office.

“I don’t think he would have lasted one more night there in the apartment,” said Sgt. Roger Krohn. “We would have found a dead body there the next day.”

Chedester was soon hospitalized for severe respiratory distress. He later showed signs of pneumonia, and he was treated for sepsis, anxiety and an uncontrolled heart rate.

“They dropped me off at the apartment on a Friday, and the next thing I can remember was when I came to in the hospital on Sunday,” Chedester told the Register.

Chedester is back at Elmwood, though he has expressed interest in being taken to the Iowa Veterans Home. The federal government fined the home more than $5,700, which was reduced from $8,850 because the home agreed not to appeal it. No criminal charges were filed.

“A $5,000 fine is nothing,” James said. “That’s nothing compared to the cost of 10 days in the hospital. It doesn’t come close to paying for what they did to this man.”

Elmwood is owned by Aviv, a large real estate investment trust that owns more than 260 nursing homes.

Marla Cleghorn, an executive of Elmwood’s Florida-based management company, Trillium Health Care Group, said the company does not condone how the nursing home staff handled the situation.

“It really and truly was an unfortunate situation,” she said.

Amy McCoy, a DHS spokeswoman, said the department couldn’t discuss the case. Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman Deanna Clingan-Fischer said Elmwood was required by law to inform her office of the involuntary discharge but they didn’t.

State records show the home was not cited for that violation, or a requirement that it tell Chedester he could contact the ombudsman’s office if he objected to the discharge.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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