DES MOINES (AP) — Former employees of the Iowa Veterans Home criticized the institution's leadership during a State Senate hearing Monday.
During more than two hours of testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, former employees said top managers of the home treated staff poorly and were not providing good care to veterans.
“During the last year of my employment, in 2011, a loving, caring environment changed into 'this is an institution,'” said Bill Rakers, former director of recreational therapy, who worked at the home for 29 years before retiring in 2011.
No current employees testified at the hearing, which was scheduled after more than 40 former staffers at the home signed a letter, critical of management, that was printed in the Des Moines Register.
David Worley, the commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home since 2010, said he was proud of the treatment offered at the home. He invited lawmakers to visit the facility.
“What I would like is for you to come up there. I don't think the morale is as bad as some of those people — it may be for some of those people — but I still believe that the residents are getting great quality care.
“I see motivated, happy residents,” Worley said. “I spent five hours at the Veterans Home yesterday, talking to families.”
Several people testifying said the State Department of Administrative Services had investigated complaints about leadership at the home. A spokesman for the department said there would be no departmental comment on personnel matters, which are treated as confidential.
The committee's chairman, Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, said the panel will meet again to decide what action to take, noting that one option would be to refer it to the Senate Government Oversight Committee, which he said has the power to subpoena witnesses. Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, also called on Gov. Terry Branstad to also put Worley on administrative leave and conduct a full investigation.
A spokesman for Branstad said the governor is confident residents of the Veterans Home are receiving quality care.
“David Worley has been a strong, effective leader at the Iowa Veterans Home, and Gov. Branstad wholeheartedly supports him,” Tim Albrecht wrote in an emailed statement.
The home in Marshalltown is Iowa's largest nursing home and among the biggest in the nation for veterans and their spouses. The home is made up of two separate facilities. One provides nursing care for about 500 residents. The other is a residential care facility where 100 more people live mostly independently.
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