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Iowa Nursing Home Staff Abused and Laughed at Patients According to Records

Published on Mar 12, 2024 by Thomas Law Offices.

Iowa Nursing Home Staff Abused and Laughed at Patients According to Records

A whistleblower retaliation lawsuit filed on Feb. 15, 2024, reveals how there was pervasive mistreatment of nursing home residents at a DesMoines, Iowa nursing home beginning as early as March 2022.  

A later Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals (DIA) investigation, launched after her dismissal, confirmed the majority of those reports (and others) alleging staff abused and laughed at patients.  

What We Know About the Mistreatment of Residents at the Des Moines Nursing Home 

According to the fired employee, she witnessed the ill-treatment of patients at the then-named Promedica Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation (now known as Harmony West Des Moines), beginning soon after she was hired to work as a dietary aide at the facility in March 2022.  

In her filing, she outlines some of the following examples of neglectful or abusive treatment she witnessed while working at the facility: 

  • The forcible grabbing and shoving of an elderly male patient clearly in need of supportive care into a nearby chair
  • Staff using swear words when interacting with or screaming at residents, both of which were intended to belittle them
  • Patients not receiving prescribed medications on time

Did the Iowa Assisted Care Facility Employee Report the Abuse and Neglect? 

The worker’s whistleblower and wrongful termination lawsuit outline her many attempts to report the abuse of residents she routinely witnessed, such as when she reported the many incidents to: 

  • Her immediate supervisor and representatives in the human resources department at the skilled nursing and rehab facility
  • The DIA, which occurred on July 9, 2022

In the court filing, the dietary aide shared how she told a colleague about having made a report with the DIA, who, in turn, reported the same to the human resource department. Within two days of that occurring, the aide was let go from her job at the facility.  

What a DIA Investigation of the Nursing Care Facility Revealed 

It wasn’t long after her firing that the DIA presumably more closely reviewed complaints it had been receiving, which led the state agency to issue its own report corroborating many of the allegations levied by the dismissed employee plus more.  

While all the accounts verified were concerning, there’s one that particularly stands out as particularly disturbing. 

That concerning account stems from an incident that occurred in late September 2023. An interview with the resident revealed how two workers entered the patient’s room as she prepared to go to sleep.  

They reportedly didn’t allow her to reposition herself as she requested using the trapeze positioned above her bed. Instead, she alleges that they pried her fingers off the equipment and twisted her wrist in doing so, which in turn left behind bruises.  

Then, despite her screaming and asking them to stop, the workers began tugging at and then forcibly rolling her over to the point where she feared falling from her bed, not even stopping and even going as far as to laugh at and otherwise mock her when she said, “Stop it hurts.” 

The experience described above wasn’t the only one that involved taunting.  

In going back further in reviewing complaints, the DIA investigators identified and verified another report in which a patient reported how staff laughed at them whenever they requested anything of them. The same resident contends that workers also instructed her to no longer use the call light affixed to her bed as they would not respond if she did.  

They also yelled at and berated her when they would come and help, telling her they didn’t have time to assist her. To make matters even worse, the patient in question had a roommate who witnessed everything, and when she attempted to speak up to stop the abusive treatment, she was also met with aggression from the staff, who told her to “shut up” and “stay out of it.”  

Seeking Help When Nursing Care Facilities Violate Your Rights 

Although the dietary aide’s choice to initially report the abuse she personally witnessed and to escalate the matter to the appropriate state agency when her employer didn’t appear to initially take corrective action ultimately ended up causing her to lose her job.  

However, that choice likely saved countless current residents from continuing to be abused or neglected and others from facing the same fate in the future.  

It would be ideal if everyone were surrounded by someone as courageous as this employee and stood up for whatever they believed in, no matter the consequences, like the loss of a job. However, instances in which someone is brave enough to do that only occur on occasion. That’s why there’s a saying that goes, “You’re your own best advocate.”  

Know that you have rights if you or someone close to you is being subjected to abuse or neglect.  

Thomas Law Offices can advise you of those. You mustn’t allow this treatment to continue as it often carries with it long-term consequences. Reach out to our law firm to learn more about legal options that may allow you to recover compensation for past and future losses associated with abuse and neglect.  

Consultations with attorneys who have experience with nursing home liability cases are free. 



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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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