The state of Iowa’s watchdog for the elderly is coming under fire for allegedly failing to carry out her duties or make plans to do so, an extensive report in the Des Moines Register claimed Monday.
Cynthia Pederson, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, has not lobbied Iowa lawmakers on any bills in 2018 and has not shown interest in doing so, the newspaper claimed. Grappling with sizeable budget cuts to her office, she also has ceased onsite visits to nursing homes, performing them by phone instead, the report said.
Each state is required to have its own such LTC ombudsman, who is charged with operating as nonpartisan voice for the elderly population. Ombudsmen are charged with delving into complaints against nursing homes, free from interference from other state agencies. In Iowa, the office has suffered through budget cuts and alleged interference from the state governor’s office, critics claim.
Pederson is in her fourth year with the ombudsman’s office, and seventh month leading it.
“I’m still getting a good understanding of exactly where this office needs to be going,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t want to jump in too hastily and make a bad decision that would impact us negatively.”
A consultant who advocates for the elderly was having none of it, according to the Register report.
“The ombudsman’s office is simply not doing its job,” said John Hale. “And the Iowans who depend on that office, and who depend on the state to serve and support them, are being let down.”
The Register questioned whether eliminating the in-person visits to nursing homes violates state law. Reportedly, only two or three such visits have been conducted in the last eight months.