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Nursing Home Fined For Failing To Safeguard Patients

Failing to Safeguard Patients is dangerous.When someone places a disabled or elderly family member into a nursing home, it is reasonable to expect that your loved ones be protected from physical and/or sexual abuse. While it is certainly not always an easy job, one of the most important responsibilities for a long-term care facility administrator is to ensure that his or her residents are protected from abuse and neglect. Most of the time this goes well, but other times negligent behavior can have devastating consequences.

The recent example of a facility failing to protect patients in Iowa

This is exactly what happened to the former administrator at the Pomeroy Care Center, Susan Juilfs. The former administrator was charged with unprofessional conduct after she proved to be unable to protect her facility residents from 84-year-old William Cubbage, a man with a long list of sexual assault charges.

After he was convicted of four felony sexual abuse charges against minors, Cubbage lived in the Iowa Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders. After seven years at the unit, Cubbage was released in 2010. He was then sent to live at Pomeroy Care Center, but it did not take long for future problems to develop. According to reports, in August of 2011, an underage girl visiting a loved one in the nursing home witnessed Cubbage fondling a 95-year old female resident. According to the report, the resident was actively screaming “no” as Cubbage held her down on the bed.

Not the only example

It would be bad enough if nursing home staff knowingly let a repeat sex offender into a nursing home. Unfortunately, Cubbage was not even the sole sex offender who lived in that particular nursing home. John Steinkamp also lived at the nursing home. The 79-year old Steinkamp has three priors for lascivious acts with children.

The administrator is not solely responsible

Despite the fact that the administrator in charge was disciplined because of the negligent behavior displayed to other residents of the nursing home, it is important to note that Governor Terry Branstad deserves some blame in this situation as well. The Iowa Legislature approved a bill earlier in the year that was created by a committee of representatives of the Iowa court system, state regulators, advocates for seniors, and nursing home residents. This bill would study alternatives to placing violent criminals and sex offenders into the traditional care facilities.

However, the governor ended up vetoing that particular legislation. The reason given for the veto was that he created a panel of four state agency directors to deal with the same problem. While the group met once, Branstad does admit that he does not know when the group will meet again.

Why it could happen again

As it stands right now, nursing homes are not legally required to tell its residents or resident’s family members that they are sharing a facility with convicted sex offenders. However, if residents and staff members were privy to that information, it would allow them to be better protected against sexual abuse. Despite the fact that the responsible parties are both punished, the truth is that nothing is going to change until we see a different approach from a legal standpoint.

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