Tymeson steps into controversy at IVH

Jodi Tymeson of the Iowa Veterans Home is fond of the Marshalltown facility’s mission so much so that she placed it on the back of her business card.

Our mission is to provide a continuum of care to Iowa’s veterans and their spouses in an environment focusing on individualized services to enhance their quality of life.

That mission, though, has been called into question for months with accusations of intimidation and sexual harassment levied at Commandant David Worley. Tymeson stepped in May 28 as chief operating officer – a newly created position – amid calls for Worley to step down.

Tymeson, who retired as a brigadier general in 2007 after 33 years in the Iowa National Guard, supports Worley, describing him as an affable leader who knows all residents and staff members by name.

“No employees or residents have made allegations to me that I feel need to be investigated regarding harassment or intimidation,” she said. “(Worley) cares deeply for the residents and deeply for the staffhe is a great leader for the facility.”

Tymeson served as a Republican representative in the Iowa House until 2010 and then became head of the Iowa Dept. of Veterans Affairs. She visited IVH in each capacity several times before being appointed to her current position in May by Gov. Terry Branstad.

She reports to Worley but said the two work collaboratively on major projects. Tymeson wants to provide a healthy and positive environment for the 900 employees and 600 residents at the facility.

“I have an open door policy. I’m trying to encourage residents to talk to me about their issues,” she said.

Resident Mike Croskey said Tymeson has made a positive difference since her arrival. He credits her with re-opening an old greenhouse residents enjoy working in that closed under Worley.

“If we could get rid of Worley she could turn this place back into a home,” Croskey said. “There’s been some slow improvements (since Tymeson arrived) but it’s a long ways from being what we need.”

Croskey, a Vietnam veteran and head of the IVH Resident Council for the past 12 years, said he has spoken with Tymeson several times about run-ins he’d had with Worley. Croskey paints Worley as a bully who threatens to fire employees and discharge residents who don’t fall in line.

“He’s a very nice person when he’s showing people around here but if he’s by himself he’s not very nice to anybody,” Croskey said.

Croskey said the two got off on the wrong foot when Worley became commandant three years ago. In their first conversation, Croskey said Worley accused him of being hostile.

Worley said he couldn’t comment on private conversations with residents, but added that he didn’t recall Croskey bringing up such complaints.

Other residents talk to Croskey, he said, about what they feel is mistreatment from Worley. Some call IVH a prison.

“I’ve had some of them tell me ‘I wish I never would have went into the service if I knew I would get treated like this.’ We are not people anymore,” Croskey said.

Croskey said Tymeson acts as a buffer between residents and Worley and since her arrival Worley isn’t as visible as he once was. Worley disagrees.

“I pretty much see Mike every day,” he said. “We have seven buildings where we have residents in careI have been in every building today except one. Yesterday I was pushing residents around to an activity for bingo.”

Others made accusations against Worley during a special hearing at the state capitol May 6.

Ken Briggs, a representative on the Iowa Mental Health Planning Council, said residents regularly told him that they did not receive meals on time, were not bathed regularly and feared they would be kicked out if they spoke up.

Bill Rakers, former IVH recreation director, described Worley as someone more concerned with cutting costs than employee morale.

Richard Schrad, former director of resident and family services, said Worley made sexually explicit remarks to staff and degrading comments to residents.

Worley and Tymeson each said none of the people who spoke at the hearing have talked to them since then.

“Even the allegations at that hearing, there was no one saying that any of these things happened to them; they were saying these things happened to other people,” Worley said. “That was on May 6, so it’s been over three months and you would have thought someone would have stepped forward.”

In addition, Worley said IVH received a clean state audit earlier this month and has consistently been in compliance with federal and state regulators.

“Every one of these allegations can be investigated by lots of people,” Worley said.

Croskey and state Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, though, counter by saying that many more people would come forward if they felt free from reprisal.

Sodders has continued to call for Branstad to place Worley on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted. He feels Tymeson, whose annual salary is $109,990, was brought on board to keep Worley in check.

“We’re having to pay, basically, for someone to come in and babysit the place,” Sodders said.

Attempts to schedule an interview with Branstad were unsuccessful.