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IVH gains compliance, now accepts Medicaid and Medicare patients

November 30, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Staff at the Iowa Veterans Home will celebrate the state-run nursing home's 125th anniversary by having a lingering weight lifted.

In October, the federal government reprimanded the home for its third incident of neglect in four months. The most recent incident led to the death of one of its residents.

But that is all behind them, Commandant David Worley said.

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On Monday and Tuesday, a state inspector visited the home and found it to be in compliance, lifting the home's hold on accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients and halting the $250 a day fine for the duration that the home was out of compliance.

"Our staff and leadership have done a wonderful job training," Worley said. "It was an eye-opening experience for us."

In June, the state imposed a $2,000 fine on the home when its staff failed to prevent pressure ulcers on a resident. Then, in August, the state fined the home $5,500 when it reviewed five cases and determined one resident suffered a broken hip.

Most recently, the state found that staff at IVH did not demonstrate proper knowledge of bed alarm protocol and fall prevention. That finding came after 91-year-old Vivian Knoll, who doctors had diagnosed with osteoporosis, fell from her bed, leaving her with fractures that, according to the state inspector's report, eventually killed her.

Worley stressed that staff and leadership at the home have worked diligently to ensure the home's residents get the best possible care. Problems arise when communication breaks down, he added.

As part of its effort to meet standards, IVH assembled a quality control team. Such a team reorganized the home's safety officer, infection control nurse, quality assurance person and education coordinator together with a newly hired nurse educator.

The team leader reports to the deputy director.

Worley said the team addresses breakdowns in communication and helps coordinate different aspects of the home's operations so everyone knows their duties.

"Iowa Veterans Home has a lot of teams, but we are all one team," he said. "If everyone knows their role and does their job, we will always be successful."

IVH will continue to have high standards, Worley said.

One of the biggest challenges that the home needs to continue to address is how to adjust the learning curve at the home so employees know their responsibilities sooner, he said.

In the healthcare field, turnover is high. And although that turnover is lower than other state-run nursing homes, Worley said IVH still hired 18 new employees last month, and there is no reason staff can't work to get new employees up to speed faster.

"We have learned a lot in the last couple months," he said. "We stay vigilant."

The next phase of construction at the home will begin in mid-to-late February, Worley said, and he expects that all IVH residents - except couples - will be placed in single-bed rooms in the next three-to-four years.

IVH celebrates its 125 year anniversary at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.



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