A state agency has proposed a fine against a Guthrie Center-based long-term care facility for allegedly not allowing family to visit an end-of-life patient this summer.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals filed a citation against The New Homestead on August 13th with a $3,250 fine. The citation states that based on a record review, and staff and family interviews the facility failed to ensure rights were met for an unnamed resident who passed away on May 11th. According to the record, the resident’s daughter stated her mother died in the facility without allowing family in to see her, and she stated that she spoke to the facility administrator at one point voicing her concern that “she was going to have to watch her mom die through her window.”

The resident’s daughter stated that the administrator told her they had to keep COVID-19 out of the facility at all costs and the facility would call her when the time was near. On the night of May 10th, hospice staff allegedly relayed to the daughter that the facility said it was not time yet to visit. At 9:30 a.m. the next day the daughter was notified that her mother had passed away. The director of nursing stated that residents are allowed to have visitors at end of life, and she considered the resident’s mottling and shallow respirations a significant change that would allow for a family visit. She stated she was not aware of any staff or hospice nurse telling the daughter she couldn’t visit the day before she passed away.

The New Homestead released a statement expressing their heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all families who have lost loved ones during the current health crisis. Due to privacy restrictions, the New Homestead cannot comment on specific resident matters, but they stated they do not agree with the Department of Inspections and Appeals’ findings and are pursuing available legal options to challenge those findings.

The New Homestead’s full statement:

On behalf of The New Homestead Care Center team, I extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all families who have lost loved ones during the current health crisis. We know these are difficult times, made even more difficult with the pandemic and the additional precautions now necessary to keep people safe. We also appreciate how important it is to family members to have the ability to visit their loved ones, especially when that loved one is nearing the end of his or her life.
Due to privacy restrictions, The New Homestead Care Center cannot comment on specific resident matters. The New Homestead Care Center does not, however, agree with the Department of Inspections and Appeal’s findings and is pursuing its available legal options to challenge those findings.

Click to read the state’s citation.