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Veterans Nursing Home Ends Wheelchair Program After Resident Falls

Veterans Nursing Home

A major veterans home in Marshalltown, Iowa has discontinued a program where residents got paid to transport other residents in wheelchairs.The decision to end the program came after a wheelchair-bound resident fell face-first onto a cement ramp.

Home Commandant David Worley says the accident exposed a lack of training and raised serious questions about safety.

“We just hadn’t followed up [on the wheelchair escort program],” he said.

David Werning, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, says the program “may well have been a case of good intentions that went awry.”

On September 29, a male employee was transporting a female resident back from the campus beauty shop, when the woman attempted to stand. The ensuing fall resulted in a broken nose, and fourteen stitches to the woman’s forehead. The escort told investigators that he’d been at the job for three months, but had no training on the proper handling of wheelchairs.

I find the “wheelchair program” highly suspicious. Not only were “resident employees” undertrained, but they were also paid minimum wage for their duties. Could this dangerous measure have been a way to cut costs for the Veterans Home? If so, it’s truly disappointing that such an established facility – Iowa’s largest – would have to resort to such backwards tactics.

Here at Nursing Homes Abuse Blog, we’ve covered several disturbing stories coming out of Iowa in recent months. In February, Iowa cut more than one-fourth of its nursing home inspector positions. That left 28 inspectors to inspect 450 nursing homes – one inspector for every 1,071 residents.

According to recent U.S. Census data, Iowa’s elderly population is expected to “accelerate rapidly” over the next fifteen years, to nearly a quarter of its population – or 700,000 people. Who will take care of these “new” elders? As the state with the nation’s 5th-highest proportion of elderly, I think it’s time lawmakers took Iowa’s elderly much more seriously.


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