Promedica Whistleblower

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported on the whistleblower lawsuit after a dietary aide was fired after reporting abuse and neglect to state officials. Caregivers in nursing homes are considered “mandatory reporters” who are required by law to report instances of suspected abuse and neglect.

She alleges she witnessed abuse and physical aggression toward patients, such as forcibly grabbing an elderly man and shoving him into a chair, and the staff “using profanity and yelling at residents, making them feel like a nuisance and burden.” She also witnesses neglect.

Shyohnte Shetworth-Ware is suing West Des Moines’ Promedica Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center doing business as Harmony West Des Moines.

The lawsuit alleges that soon after she began her employment with Promedica, Shetworth-Ware became concerned about “the abusive and undignified way Promedica’s staff members, including management, treated residents.”

On July 9, 2022, Shetworth-Ware allegedly complained to the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing, which was conducting an on-site inspection of the facility at that time. According to the lawsuit, Shetworth-Ware then learned that a co-worker had informed Promedica’s human resources staff of the complaint, and on July 11, 2022, Shetworth-Ware was fired.

State records show that on July 28, 2022, shortly after Shetworth-Ware was fired, DIAL completed its onsite investigation at Promedica and substantiated 13 of 14 complaints that it investigated. The inspectors reported that several residents complained of neglect.

One resident reportedly said that when residents told the staff they needed something, the workers would tell them to shut up or “just laugh at you.” The woman allegedly told the state that the staff had yelled at her to not use her call light, or wouldn’t respond if she did so.

While in the building conducting the inspection, one of the state inspectors reported overhearing a worker near the dining room tell a colleague, “If they would get more staff, we could get more s— done,” and, “I haven’t had a break, either, and they keep saying baths need done. They can f— themselves.”

Early last year, state inspectors cited Promedica for 20 state and federal regulatory violations. The inspectors were at the home to investigate 23 separate complaints — an extraordinarily high number — pertaining to the home’s quality of care. Of those 23 complaints, inspectors substantiated 19.