2014 chutzpah award-winners: National and Iowa edition

The year’s not even half over, but I doubt any public figure will surpass the brazen chutzpah former Vice President Dick Cheney displayed in television appearances on two consecutive days this week. Cheney asserted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be “held accountable” for the terror attack in Benghazi, and that President Barack Obama has abused executive power. Look who’s talking! The guy who never faced any consequences for his central role in leading the country into war on false pretenses. The Iraq war killed nearly 4,500 U.S. military personnel in the theater, contributed to hundreds of veteran suicides in the past decade, and left thousands of Americans with life-altering physical injuries or PTSD (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties).  I don’t know why anyone would listen to anything Cheney has to say about anything, particularly about being held accountable.

A remarkable example of home-grown chutzpah came from Jerry Rhoads, who recently filed for bankruptcy protection for himself and two Iowa nursing homes he owns. One of the homes is on the federal government’s list of most troubled care facilities, according to Clark Kauffman’s piece in the Sunday Des Moines Register. But to hear Rhoads tell it, he’s an innocent victim of over-zealous inspectors:

“I don’t think I’m the bad guy,” Rhoads said Wednesday [May 14]. “I believe this is criminal, the way we have been treated. They have fined us over $100,000, and we lost another $1 million because of the hold they placed on new Medicaid admissions.” […]

“We’re not bad people, but the state has treated us like criminals.”

No, if the state were treating you like criminals, you’d be facing criminal charges and not just civil fines for substandard care that may have led to several deaths. After the jump I’ve posted some of the shocking details from Kauffman’s article.

Iowa has some outstanding nursing homes and skilled care facilities, but I would still recommend keeping a close eye on any loved ones receiving long-term care, given our state’s weak enforcement of violations and limited capacity for inspections.  

From Clark Kauffman’s piece in the Sunday Des Moines Register, May 18:

A week later, state inspectors began investigating a June death at the Washington facility [All-American Restorative Care]. As a result of that investigation, the federal government temporarily banned the home from accepting any new Medicaid-dependent residents and began imposing daily fines against the home until it was able to show compliance with all regulations. Those federal fines eventually totaled $70,750.

Earlier this year, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals agreed to discount, by 10 percent, state fines of $18,000 against the home in return for Rhoads dropping his appeal of those penalties. Rhoads has yet to pay the state fines. […]

The Washington facility currently has Medicare’s lowest possible overall ranking for quality of care.

In 2012, video recorders at the home captured a resident falling and then lying on the floor for 48 minutes as nearby workers participated in a Christmas party. The resident was subsequently taken to a hospital and treated for a serious head injury.

Throughout 2013, the home was cited for numerous infractions, including failure to meet professional standards, insufficient staffing, unsanitary food service and inadequate infection control.

The home also was cited for failing to perform CPR on a resident who was found in bed with no vital signs. Minutes before, an aide saw the resident breathing heavily and gasping for air and told a co-worker the resident “did not look right.” The home’s administrator – Rhoads’ wife, Sharon – later told inspectors it would have been an “atrocity” to attempt CPR, as the resident may have been dead for up to an hour before he was found.

Kauffman also reported that Rhoads used to operate a nursing home in Arkansas that was facing several wrongful-death claims.  

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