- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

MARION, Iowa (AP) - A mentally disabled woman overheated and died inside an eastern Iowa group home that had been heat-treated for bedbugs, according to state records.

Rhonda Skoog, 61, was pronounced dead on August 30 at the 29th Street Crest Group Home in Marion, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1hQBZDc ). She was found a day after the facility underwent treatment for bedbugs. The process involved blowing superheated air inside the home, which caused the temperature to rise to at least 125 degrees.

State records say home staffers were undertrained and unaware that Skoog’s diagnosed sensitivity to heat was aggravated by two of her medications. Regulators fined the home $10,000.

The facility is managed by Crest Services of Des Moines.

“It was an unfortunate incident, and we’ve done everything we can to make sure it never happens again,” said Crest Services director Jan Caldwell.

The treatment on Aug. 29 was completed by 5 p.m., and Skoog and others were allowed back inside the building around 7:30 p.m.

Skoog, who had a mild intellectual disability, soon complained to staff about the heat. Workers later told state inspectors that Skoog became sick and started crying. She went into her room and emerged at 10 p.m. to complain that it was too hot. She then went back to her room.

Staff found Skoog dead in a chair in her room at about 6:30 a.m. the next day. Staff believed she had been dead for several hours. The group home temperature at the time was 91 degrees, according to a Marion police officer who responded to a 911 call.

Officials, who ruled Skoog died of hyperthermia, said her body temperature was measured at 107 degrees at 10:30 a.m. - several hours after her death, the newspaper reported. A life-threatening temperature is considered 105 degrees.

Caldwell, the Crest Services director, said staffers misspoke when they told state regulators and police that they didn’t know what medications were being handed out to patients like Skoog. Caldwell also said the home has offered additional training to its medication managers. No state-certified medication aides work there.


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

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