The Advocate - February 2021

Advocate Header


February 2021

Note from the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman


We are nearing the one-year mark from when we first began hearing the term COVID-19. Since that time unfortunately that terrifying term has become commonplace in our daily vocabulary and taken an unimaginable toll on the population served in long-term care facilities. The upheaval of residents’/tenants’ daily lives and the loss that residents/tenants have faced cannot adequately measured. And those losses continue today. As the process of administration of the COVID-19 vaccines continues and hopefully brings long-term care facilities to a place where the word visitation is no longer followed by the word restrictions, the OSLTCO urges long-term care facilities to expand their thinking of how compassionate care visits can be used to the benefit of residents/tenants of long-term care.


Given the length of time that residents/tenants have been separated from their loved ones, are you seeing that residents/tenants are more depressed because they have been isolated for so long? This should be qualification for a compassionate care visit.


Do you notice that a resident/tenant that once had a robust appetite now can’t even be coaxed to enjoy their favorite dessert? This should be qualification for a compassionate care visit.


How about the resident that used to always wisecrack with the staff, but now is withdrawn? This should be qualification for a compassionate care visit.


What about the resident/tenant that still hasn’t seen the newest member who married into the family during the pandemic, and it weighs on the resident’s/tenant’s mind? This should be qualification for a compassionate care visit.


It is easy to understand how end of life qualifies for compassionate care visits. But what could truly be more compassionate than allowing for visits that allow residents to maintain a happy, healthy, joyful level of functioning during this time that has tried all of us.


If you have questions about whether or not a situation you see qualifies for a compassionate care visit, or need additional ideas about compassionate care visits please reach out to the OSLTCO.

News & Resources


The Iowa Department of Public Health has a COVID-19 vaccine webpage containing an array of information regarding the vaccine. This webpage includes a vaccine administration dashboard and a vaccine provider locator tool. 

Our Office's COVID-19 webpage has resources regarding compassionate care visits, CDC vaccine guidance updates for underlying medical conditions and CDC published information regarding COVID-19 vaccine basics.


Iowa State University has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to create a sensor to detect COVID as well as other biothreats by 2026. Find out more information in this article.  

Resident/Tenant Rights

February is a time to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing all of the contributions of past leaders as we move to a more unified American people. The Iowa Department of Education website shares that the first black Miss America candidate was from Iowa in 1970. Additionally, Iowa was one of the first states in the union to legalize interracial marriage back in 1851. Long-term care facilities can offer residents and tenants a time to share their own stories. Only by sharing these stories can we, as a culture, appreciate how far we have come and look to an all-inclusive community in the future.


The Journal for American Medical Directors Association published a study on drinking alcohol in nursing facilities. The study published details about three frameworks analyzing risks to the resident. Those frameworks and the study may be found in this article. Long-term care facilities are encouraged to look at all aspects of resident/tenant life when creating and enforcing policies. Even with the frameworks explained in this article, this Office will continue to be an advocate for the resident/tenant and representatives of the Office, and will continue to work at the direction of the resident/tenant in Iowa's long-term care facilities.

Resident_Tenant Health Safety Welfare


The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman would like to wish a very happy National Caregiver Day on February 19 to all of the staff caring for residents and tenants living in long-term care facilities. 


On With Life in Ankeny in Iowa opened a COVID-19 rehabilitation clinic working with those who may no longer test positive from COVID-19, but may have lingering effects in this article.


Tenants at Senior Star at Elmore Place in Davenport have spiced up their dining options during COVID-19 in this article


Tenants and visitors have a special location to visit each other as Stoney Brook Village, an assisted living program in West Union, Iowa purchased a tiny house to facilitate visitations during COVID-19 in this article.


Residents received a show outside in the snow at Oaknoll Retirement Residence as an orange T-Rex stomped the grounds in this video.


Snowmen created by junior high school students in Oelwein

Residents at Grandview Healthcare Center in Oelwein were greeted by snowmen creations outside their windows. Some of the junior high school students decided to build the snowy figures on their official snow day out of school. According to Activities Director Dawn Dewey, "The residents enjoyed watching the children play in the snow and build the snowmen, they still comment on it as the snowmen are still standing 2 weeks later."


Miriam Looker decided to take matters into her own hands and help facilitate the creation of over 3,000 masks while living at Walnut Crossing a long-term care facility in Marysville, Ohio. Ms. Looker is 95 years old and has sewn around 1,700 masks herself. Her project began as her stepson, a doctor, expressed a lack of masks towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks are still being created and being donated to a variety of places in this article.


Wesley Morgan was furloughed from the Denver International Airport in Colorado and found himself sharing his collection of Peanuts (comic strip) cards by writing to seniors across the nation. Now, his pen pals share back and forth their interests and stories in this article.


Francis Warner "Uncle Bunny" celebrated his 101st birthday with beer at Maple Winds Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center located in Pennsylvania in this article

Legislative & Policy Issues


Last month the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman sent the email below to the members of the 89th General Assembly introducing the office to the new members of the legislature and letting the legislature know that the office is here to assist their constituents in trying to work through visitation issues.

State of Iowa 89th General Assembly Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Introduction

Dear Member of the 89th General Assembly,


The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an autonomous office housed in the Iowa Department on Aging that advocates for the rights of Iowans living in long-term care facilities including nursing facilities, residential care facilities, assisted living programs and elder group homes. The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman consists of the local long-term care ombudsman program, the volunteer ombudsman program, the managed care ombudsman program and an empowerment specialist.


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of nursing facilities have suffered not only from the ravages of the virus, but also from social isolation as a result of measures taken by state and federal agencies in an attempt to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing facilities. The visitation restrictions put in place early in the public health emergency are a hot button issue and is a topic for which the Office of the State Long- Term Care Ombudsman has provided advocacy services to residents and their loved ones.


COVID-19 has greatly impacted the population the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman serves. In March, it became apparent that Iowa would not be spared from COVID-19, as the first cases began to be reported in southeastern Iowa. The long-term care facilities in Iowa began to take measures in furtherance of keeping COVID-19 out of facilities in March. This resulted in residents/tenants being confined to their rooms, being unable to participate in group activities, and long-term care facilities imposed strict prohibitions on the ability of this office as well as visitors’ to enter facilities. As the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman already provided a portion of their advocacy services via telephone and technology, the local long-term care ombudsman have been able to continue advocacy for residents/tenants of long-term care without missing a beat. Volunteer ombudsman have also continued to provide remote advocacy services as requested by residents.


Your constituents who are living in long-term care, or those living in the community that are concerned about loved ones living in long-term care can reach out to this office for assistance in ensuring that residents rights are being upheld and respected. You may also reach out to this office if you have any questions about services we provide. We may be reached at 866-236-1430.


Best wishes for a successful legislative session.




Cynthia Pederson, JD
State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Involuntary Discharge


The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman COVID-19 webpage links to Governor Reynold's proclamation that suspends involuntary discharges for financial reasons for residents living in nursing or residential care facilities.

Volunteer Ombudsman Program or 515-971-6294 "We are your Voice for Choice-Iowa Volunteer Ombudsman Program"


New Interim Volunteer Ombudsman

The volunteers below have completed all five training modules and participated in Learning Scenarios and are certified as interim certified volunteer ombudsman. Our new volunteers await their final facility visit for certification. We are proud to announce the following volunteers who have joined our VOP.  

  • Rebecca Lenz Dallas County
  • Jerome Palas Black Hawk County

VOP Statewide Conference Call

This month's statewide call will be held on Wednesday, February 10 at 10:00 am and will be presented by Pam Mollenhauer, Empowerment Specialist discussing an overview of resident councils. If you do view a recording of a previously recorded statewide conference call be sure to email to receive one hour of continuing education credit.

Events & Educational Opportunities


The Inappropriate Institutionalization of People with Mental Illness in LTC Facilities: History and Recommendations

VOP CEU eligible

Feb 16 (12 pm)

More Information | Register