State Board Settles Suit Over Death at Home
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A state board has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the estate of a 26-year-old man who died following a seizure and lax medical care at a home for disabled Iowans, newly released records show.
The payment to the estate of Timothy N. Alexander, approved last week by the State Appeals Board, comes on top of fines that totaled $11,500 for errors related to his care at the Glenwood Resource Center in southwest Iowa.
"Cases like this are very difficult and emotional. We felt it was best to resolve the case, and we think this is a fair settlement," said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General's Office, which released copies of the settlement paperwork in response to a request from The Associated Press.
Alexander's estate was expected to sign documents to finalize the agreement Thursday, Greenwood said. But that step is a formality since a judge in Polk County has already accepted the deal. The lawsuit claimed that poor supervision by staff led to his unexpected death.
Alexander, a graduate of Oskaloosa Senior High School, died at a hospital in November 2008 after being removed from life support. Days earlier he had suffered a seizure while eating dinner at the home. Inspectors say a series of miscommunications, a poor emergency response and equipment failures contributed to his death.
After the seizure, Alexander was taken to a hospital for treatment and returned to his home at Glenwood when he appeared to be stable.
A nurse monitoring Alexander found him unresponsive in his bed the next morning, but inexplicably waited 18 minutes to initiate a "code blue" emergency medical response and call 911, according to a state inspection report. When other nurses finally arrived, two pieces of equipment they used to perform CPR were not properly working. By the time he was at the hospital, he had suffered significant brain damage.
Alexander was not given his medication when he returned from the hospital the night before his death, and staff had not checked every two hours for seizure activity as recommended — oversights both attributed to miscommunications, according to a report from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. The agency faulted Glenwood for failing to train staff to follow medical procedures and emergency plans, having an unclear emergency response protocol, and for not following client behavior support plans.
Glenwood houses about 260 individuals who have been diagnosed with an intellectual disability, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services, which operates the site. After Alexander's death, the agency said it had conducted an internal review and taken personnel action, and that it was making other changes to address "systemic issues."
Alexander graduated from high school in 2001 and worked at the Christian Opportunity Center workshop in Oskaloosa before moving to Glenwood in 2004, his family said in his obituary. There, he worked as a member of the outdoor crew, planting trees and doing yard work. Family members say he liked to laugh and tell jokes, golfing and watching movies and football.
They filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging wrongful death, and the case was headed for trial last month when the settlement was reached.
District Judge Carla Schemmel approved the deal as being "fair and reasonable" given the circumstances and ordered that Frederick W. James, the Des Moines attorney representing the estate, receive no more than 35 percent of the proceeds.
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