- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The brother of a man who died after being transferred from a Clarinda mental hospital closed by the state is blaming his death on the move to a private care center.

Tim Hanson said his 65-year-old brother, Robert Hanson Jr. died July 1 at a Des Moines Hospital. He’d been among fewer than 20 patients in the Clarinda hospital’s geriatric program when Gov. Terry Branstad closed the center and another mental hospital in Mount Pleasant.

Branstad’s decision to close the facilities, which he said were outdated, prompted the Legislature to approve a bill that would have kept the Mount Pleasant center open and delayed closure of the Clarinda facility while the state sought a private operator. Branstad vetoed the legislation last week, and the state laid off employees at the hospitals.

“I know he’d be alive today if he hadn’t been transferred out of Clarinda,” Tim Hanson told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1dK1aub ). “I’d bet my life on it.”

Hanson credited the care of Clarinda staffers, saying “the nurses down there were Jim’s brothers and sisters.”

In a discharge assessment dated May 26, Clarinda staffers stated that Hanson was in “brittle” condition. He had diabetes, couldn’t feed himself and was prone to choking. Hanson said his brother became severely dehydrated at the new hospital and lost the ability to swallow before he died.

Robert Hanson was the second geriatric patient to die soon after being transferred from Clarinda.

Richard Webb, 87, died in April, about two weeks after being transferred to a nursing home in Shenandoah, his family has said. Webb suffered from severe Alzheimer’s disease, and though his family wanted him to stay at Clarinda, they have said he might have died soon, even if he had remained at the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services declined to comment on Hanson’s death, saying she couldn’t discuss specific cases.

Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers issued a statement saying the governor offered condolences to the family but supported the agency’s actions.

“The governor appreciates the Iowa Department of Human Services’ diligence during the transition period and for placing a priority on patient needs,” the statement said.

A funeral for Robert Hanson is set for Friday at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.


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

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