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New twist in Iowa nursing home death
By FRANK SANTIAGO

Originally Posted at: http://www.dmregister.com/news/stories/c4788993/20260843.html
New twist in Iowa nursing home death
By FRANK SANTIAGO
Register Staff Writer
01/18/2003
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 A woman who worked at a Rock Valley nursing home and has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of an 87-year-old patient there was not a state-certified nurse's aide, state records show.

Christine Lee Ann Helen Van Oort, 26, of Rock Valley had willfully, deliberately and with premeditation killed retired Rock Valley farmer Dick Post April 16 at the Valley Manor Nursing home, according to a court document filed late Thursday by Sioux County Attorney Melissa O'Rourke.

Iowa law requires nurse's aides to be certified.

A registry of certified aides kept by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals noted that Van Oort was not an eligible worker and had not passed required competency tests.

State officials said Van Oort is the first health worker in Iowa to be charged with first-degree murder of a patient. She had worked at the nursing home for about a year.

The murder charge, which could send Van Oort to prison for life without parole if she's convicted, stunned the northwest Iowa community of 3,000.

"There's all kinds of speculation that she picked up more guilt than she needed and took responsibility for stuff she was not responsible for," said Dr. Richard Jongewaard, Sioux County's medical examiner. "This is what you hear on the street. It sounds more like a psychiatric case. Apparently he was close to death."

Thursday"s document gave few other details in the bizarre case on how Post, who had Parkinson's disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, was killed.

The Sioux County Sheriff's Department said in a release Friday that Post was ""defenseless and vulnerable"" and was ""coldly and calculatingly choked to death with food."

Nursing home administrator Vern Carda said Friday that he was studying alleged deficiencies of the nursing home found in December by the Department of Inspections and Appeals and would comment later.

Officials said the murder investigation had triggered the inspection.

The agency claimed that the nursing home had not regularly checked the state nurse's aide registry to determine if aides were certified and that it had aides on the staff who weren't certified.

Dave Werning, spokesman for Inspections and Appeals, said the law requires that nurse's aides be certified to work in a nursing home or health facility.

He said the records kept by the agency showed Van Oort was not an eligible aide. He said she hadn't completed required courses or been employed as an aide in the past 24 months.

Werning said Van Oort's name apparently was entered into the registry when the Rock Valley nursing home notified the state they had hired her.

"It appears that they didn't follow up and check to see if she had been certified," he said.

Van Oort, according to reports in Rock Valley, had gone to authorities at least twice to tell them she had killed Post, who was among the patients she attended.

But Van Oort failed to persuade authorities to act. An investigation at the nursing home shortly after Post's death found nothing improper. Carda said a death certificate listed the cause of death as unknown. 

Van Oort has been in the Osceola County Jail in Sibley since shortly after her arrest Dec. 3.

She will be arraigned at the Sioux County Courthouse in Orange City at 10 a.m. Tuesday. She is being held on a $100,000 bond and a first-degree murder complaint signed by a sheriff"s investigator.

Members of Post's family have declined to comment.

On Dec. 4, investigators filed a first-degree murder complaint saying Van Oort told them she killed Post and made similar statements to agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The INS statements allegedly were made in Canada, Van Oort's native country. 

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