Personal Injury

Iowa nursing home fined for indifference to sexual abuse claims

An Iowa nursing home has been ordered to pay $7,000 in federal fines for not investigating complaints from staff and residents about sexual abuse from a male nursing aide. Eight separate incidents of abuse against different residents had been made to managers and supervisors at New Homestead Care Center involving staffer Juan Bautista-Meraz, according to the Des Moines Register.

The most shocking complaint involves a mentally disabled female resident. One worker says she had to force her way into that resident’s room because the door had been secured with a chair. When she entered, the worker says she saw Bautista-Meraz bent over the resident, who was partially dressed. The woman was bleeding from the vagina. Bautista-Meraz claimed he was cleaning the woman though he had no cleaning supplies with him. The nursing home countered the claim by saying it was not unusual for staff to secure the resident’s door with the chair, and that the bleeding was not uncommon in the resident as she suffered from abdominal cancer.

Other incidents include one resident claiming Bautista-Meraz ordered her to undress while he watched. Another says the aide grabbed her breast. And others say he was he was rough or handled them in a sexually suggestive manner. Bautista-Meraz has yet to be charged.

The home was cited by state inspectors in November 2006 for not reporting the allegations of abuse to the state Department of Health and not investigating the matters further. The home appealed the fine but Administrative Law Judge Jose Anglada upheld the decision saying the home “displayed indifference and disregard to resident care and safety.”