Iowa evicted a disabled U.S. Navy veteran for not paying his bill. The nursing home at the center of the dispute dropped the man at an apartment twenty miles away with no medication or food.
John Chedester, 65 was dropped off November 1 at an apartment located 20 miles from the nursing home in Onawa, Iowa. The empty, dusty apartment, in Mapleton, Iowa, was to be the home of Chedester who had been diagnosed with heart failure and diabetes as well as other illnesses.
A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals said that Chedester was dumped by the nursing home into the vacant apartment. When one of Chedester’s new neighbors called the police, Chedester was transported to an area hospital. Despite being abandoned at the apartment in November, the case only became public recently when state inspectors issued their investigative report on the incident.
The U.S. Navy veteran told a reporter that he did not have any recollection of events between the time he was dropped at the apartment and when he woke up Sunday in the hospital. The elderly veteran has been placed back in the facility that evicted him. Federal regulators have levied a fine against the Iowa facility in the amount of $5,752.
Elmwood Care Centre, the nursing home at the heart of this story, is owned by Aviv, a real estate investment company that owns more than 260 nursing homes. Seven of those facilities are located in Iowa. Maria Cleghorn, an officer with the Florida-based Aviv, called the situation “unfortunate.”
With no family support, Chedester was placed in Elmwood Care and required daily supervision and help with moving about as well as personal hygiene. Chedester requested to be moved to the Veterans Home in Marshalltown. The investigation did not reveal why he wasn’t taken to the veteran facility.
Two months after Chedester was admitted, the nursing home gave him a note indicating he would be kicked out on October 23 because of unpaid bills. When Elmwood staff tried to enroll him in Medicaid, Chedester, who can become incoherent and has rambling speech patterns, allegedly was uncooperative according to reports.
As Chedester’s eviction date got closer, he told nurses he was having problems resting because of his future. The nursing home staff made arrangements for him to get the Mapleton apartment and suggested they furnish it with items from his home. Chedester turned down the offer and also refused in-home health care as well as the oxygen he needed for assistance in breathing.
Providing Chedester with contact information for his case worker, he was driven to the bare apartment and dropped off. The driver admitted to inspectors that it was a “pretty poor” arrangement.
A tenant in the building, Kathleen James, checked on the veteran after the driver departed. Seeing he had no food or furniture, she brought Chedester a covering, bowl and microwave oven. The apartment manager donated food. That evening, James contacted Stephanie Morris, an administrator at the facility which had evicted Chedester. Morris, according to reports, was unavailable to speak with James and did not return her calls.
The next day, James could hear Chedester reading the Bible and checked in on him. When Morris refused to speak with her on the phone, James called an ambulance which took Chedester to an area hospital. After being treated in emergency care for respiratory problems, he was sent to a different hospital for more care.
His condition at the second hospital was listed as “extremely guarded” and he had both pneumonia and sepsis. Discharged on November 11, Chedester was returned to Elmwood Care Center where he is today.
Morris has left Elmwood and could not be reached for comment; no charges have been placed. While denial of critical care is a criminal dependent-adult abuse offense in Iowa, the law has rarely been enforced.
The state’s ombudsman, Deanna Clingan-Fischer, said her office did not become aware about Chedester’s situation until more than a week after his being kicked out of the nursing home. Elmwood failed to comply with state laws which require Clingan-Fischer to be notified of all involuntary discharges. Elmwood also neglected to tell Chedester that he had the right to contact the ombudsman if he had objections to being discharged.
Iowa health officials are looking into Chedester’s request that he be able to live at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Feeling he’d have more in common with the people there, he looks forward to possibly moving.
By Jerry Nelson
Des Moine Register