Iowa state lawmakers put officials from the Iowa Veterans Home on the hot seat last week about a decision made by the home to switch doctors to an on-call system for nights, weekends and holidays, resulting in a generous boost for the center’s four doctors, according to the Des Moines Register.
Medical Director Dr. Melissa Bruhl said she recommended the change to the home’s administrator Dan Steen because she was having a difficult time finding relief for the 24-hour coverage. As a result, the arrangement increased Bruhl’s salary from $244,000 per year to about $319,000.
The nursing home’s human resources director said the change didn’t save the facility money or have an affect on the quality of care provided to its 720 residents. But some are questioning how Bruhl was able to make a decision that benefited her to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
Bruhl says she is working with the human resources director to determine whether four staff medical doctors are needed on call, or if a better system would be that which is implemented by many nursing homes – to transport patients by ambulance to the hospital if medical care is required.
State lawmakers are questioning whether the governor’s office or the veterans commission played a role in the decision. Following a meeting with lawmakers, Bruhl said, “I guess I have to assume the decisions were made pretty much in-house.”