Legislation revising IVH appeal process proposed

Editor’s Note: This is the final story in a series of three articles about a local veteran’s efforts to be re-admitted to IVH.

Daniel A. “Tony” Casali worries he will not be able to fend for himself much longer.

“I am worried to death,” said Casali. Every day is a major hassle. Diabetes is a major fear, plus my blood pressure.”

Casali, 62, lives alone in a small apartment, but depends on care-givers, a Veterans Administration social worker and friends to help him take medicines, file paperwork, give him rides, and do other chores.

But the U.S. Air Force veteran is alone much of the time (Casali asked the Times-Republican not to publish the name of the town where he resides, for fear of retaliation from state officials).

Because of numerous physical and mental conditions, ranging from Type II Diabetes to anxiety to ischemic colitis,

Casali is required to take large amounts of prescribed medications on a daily basis.

He has poor memory – brought on by a beating several years ago which nearly killed him.

He recently became confused about his insulin dosage, according to his friend, Dick Schrad of Marshalltown.

Schrad retired from his social work position at IVH in Marshalltown after 30 years employment. He still counsels and helps veterans like Casali.

Schrad’s mission is to have Casali re-admitted to IVH, so he can receive supervised care by professional staff (Casali’s story has been detailed in the Oct. 2 and 3 editions Times-Republican).

Casali’s application was denied in May, and an appeal was denied in June.

Rep. Mark Smith legislation

State Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said he is concerned about Casali’s situation and similar cases.

As a result, he has been looking at IVH’s admissions and appeals criteria

Smith said, based on Casali’s situation, he is looking at the current law and the appeal process.

“There is a problem with the current language,” Smith said.

He will submit that would require the commandant to specifically identify in an application or appeal denial, what specific criteria was not met.

Specifically, Smith wants to add a section on the first denial letter regarding the appeals process and whom to appeal the decision to.

Secondly, in the denial of appeal letter, specifically state what criteria wasn’t met, physical, mental, or both.

Smith, Iowa House minority leader, said he will be sponsoring the legislation in January.

Regardless if it is helping pass legislation on behalf of the facility, or attending a Veterans Day service, Smith is passionate about IVH.

Smith’s late father was a veteran.

Smith cited state Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center legislation to serve war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as an inspiration.

Sodders pushed for more increased psychiatric services at IVH.

“What we are seeing is veterans have twice the suicide rate of non-veterans and there is a high rate of veterans who are homeless,” Smith said. “We need to be serving more younger, and younger combat veterans who are homeless and need residential care.”

Krause allegations

Bob Krause, president of the Veterans National Recovery Center (VNRC) of Fairfield, alleged in March 2015 IVH was not sensitive to those with severe PTSD.

Krause previously alleged in other emails and letters to the T-R editor that “Iowa is not sensitive to long-term care needs of veterans injured with severe PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury or Military Sexual Trauma.”

He further claimed that “an obscure section of the Code of Iowa requires that the commandant of IVH keep them out or remove them if they have symptoms.”

IVH Commandant Jodi Tymeson, immediately refuted Krause’s claims then, saying no veteran has been denied admittance to IVH for mental conditions Krause outlined, and further, has staff on hand, or can refer residents to the Veterans Administration to deal with the maladies.

Tymeson also objected strongly to Krause’s claims alleging veterans with certain mental health issues were not admitted to IVH, that residents with such illnesses were not getting treatment, or had been evicted.

“We operate according to all state and federal regulatory standards,” Tymeson said in an email response to the T-R. “All residents admitted to IVH receive care and treatment for all of their diagnosed conditions, to include mental health. IVH has a multidisciplinary mental health clinic led by a full-time psychiatrist. On-site mental health services have been a high priority at IVH for many years. In addition, our partners at the federal VA provide excellent care and services for acute mental health conditions.”

Tymeson added she shared Krause’s concerns for veterans and the need for adequate healthcare, and reiterated veterans can access care needed either at VA or IVH facilities.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com