Iowa Care Home sends woman to funeral home while still alive

A continuing care home in suburban Des Moines, Iowa, has been fined $10,000 after a funeral home discovered a woman sent to it in a body bag was still desire.

The Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals said in a report filed Wednesday that the 66-year-old woman was pronounced dead at Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Urbandale on January 3.

The woman, whose name has not been released, suffered from dementia praecox, anxiety and depression and had been in hospice care since December 28.

She was placed in a zipped body bag and taken to Ankeny Funeral and Crematorium, where workers discovered she was breathing and called 911, the report said.

She was taken to Mercy West Lakes Hospital, where she was breathing but unresponsive. The woman was eventually discharged into hospice care, where she died on January 5 with her family by her side, according to the report.

A Glen Oaks staff member who had worked a 12-hour shift and was part of the team caring for the woman told investigators she first reported to a nurse practitioner early on the 3 January that the woman was not breathing and had no pulse.

The nurse practitioner who cared for the woman overnight was also unable to find a pulse and said the woman was not breathing. She continued to assess the woman for approximately five minutes before determining that the woman was deceased.

The woman was pronounced dead around 6:30 a.m., about 90 minutes after the staff member’s first report. A funeral home worker and a second nurse practitioner who put the woman in the body bag and funeral home vehicle about an hour later also found no signs of life, the report said.

The Department of Inspections and Appeals found that the care center ‘did not provide adequate guidance to ensure appropriate care and services were provided’ before the woman was pronounced dead.

Lisa Eastman, executive director of Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, said in a statement that the center cares deeply for its residents and remains committed to supporting end-of-life care.

“All of our staff receive regular training on how best to support end-of-life care and the transition of death for our residents,” Eastman said.

The Ankeny Police Department is not pursuing criminal charges, spokesman Sgt. Corey Schneden told the Des Moines Register.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported in February 2022 that Glen Oaks was fined $500 for failing to perform required background checks on employees. He revealed that five workers had not received the training required to work in a memory care facility.


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