Former IVH employee wants answers about ‘do not hire’ list

Shocked.

That was how Carol Ray of Albion felt upon learning she was on Iowa’s “do not hire” list.

The former Iowa Veterans Home employee said she was good at her job as a resident treatment technician.

Ray proudly showed copies of evaluations, where supervisors ranked her “above average.”

She worked as a resident treatment technician on two different occasions for a total of 25 years.

She liked her co-workers and the residents she cared for.

Her work was important.

She gave medicines to residents, recorded the time and date when dosages were given, and checked on residents every two hours, among other tasks.

The job also required her to turn residents in their beds so they did not develop bed sores.

Frequently she assisted residents transfer from their bed to a wheelchair.

The constant, lifting, turning and shifting motions coupled with being on her feet many hours per shift aggravated her rheumatoid arthritis.

And over the years, she periodically had to miss work because of the pain, she said.

Ray was able to manage the condition with medication and rest for years until it became unbearable.

She frequently worked while suffering from pain.

The pain and discomfort increased significantly.

But she did not want to quit.

She consulted with doctors, and they said it was in her best interest to resign, which she did in 1999.

Photos produced by Ray show supervisors and co-workers at a reception in her honor.

Ray had resigned from IVH twice before.

Once was to move to Oregon with her husband.

However, they were unhappy in Oregon and returned to Iowa.

She re-applied at IVH and was re-hired.

She resigned a second time to pursue another job opportunity locally, which she said did not last long.

Ray missed her IVH work, co-workers and residents.

She re-applied to IVH again and was re-hired.

Ray believed that IVH considered her a valued employee when they re-hired her without reservation twice.

“I was trustworthy,” she said. “Why else would they let me be in charge of a unit by myself at Malloy Hall. If they had any complaints about me, why were they not on my evaluations?

And now she is hurt and confused, failing to understand why her name was, and still remains, on the “do not hire” list.

No one at IVH told her when she resigned in 1999, that she was ineligible to return, nor did she receive anything in writing then or since.

Meanwhile, Ray’s confusion and despair has not subsided in the nearly six weeks since the Iowa Department of Administrative Services released the “do not hire” list April 8 to the Associated Press. It contained 975 names of people disqualified from state employment based on previous firings or, in some cases resignations.

More than 100 former IVH employees were named. The majority were barred from working again for the 42 executive branch agencies, while a small number were disqualified form specific departments or jobs.

IVH Commandant Jodi Tymeson, who was appointed to the post in October 2013, declined to comment, and referred the matter to IDAS.

IDAS spokesman Caleb Hunter said those rulings didn’t compel the department to remove former state employees from exclusion status, only to technically disqualify them at the point they apply again. He said the department’s procedures complied with Iowa code.

Administrative law judges have ruled three times since 2009 that Iowa doesn’t have the authority to issue blanket lifetime bands, only the discretion to disqualify ex-employees on a case-by-case basis if they apply for another state job, according to the Des Moines Register. Instead of ending the practice, the DAS stopped notifying workers when they’re put in “exclusion status” and does so now only if they reapply.

Applicants can appeal their disqualifications, but have rarely been successful in recent years.

Even winning an appeal doesn’t remove one from the list: Six former employees whose bans have been lifted by judges or rescinded by the department remain on it.

Meanwhile, Ray has watched the proceedings which have played out in Des Moines with interest.

“To be treated in this manner, was unfair,” said Ray. “Why did they (IDAS) blackball me? What if a miracle medicine was discovered, which cured my rheumatoid arthritis and made me able to work again?

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com