Following a revelation earlier this year that a deceased nurse practitioner at Ottumwa Regional Health Center sexually assaulted nine female patients, Iowa’s senior senator sent a letter to officials to voice his concerns.
In January, the Ottumwa Police Department shared the results of an investigation. While looking into the October 2022 death of 27-year-old Devin Caraccio of Centerville, officials say his cellphone contained videos and images depicting him sexually assaulting the patients while they were sedated. Caraccio was found dead in an office at the hospital. His death has been ruled an overdose.
In a letter dated March 17th, Senator Chuck Grassley called the events “horrific” and provided a timeline of the acquisition and selling of the hospital multiple times since 2010 which he classified as “opaque and questionable.”
The hospital was sold to Regional Care Hospital Partners in 2010, then in November 2015 Apollo Global Management purchased Regional Care in an $800 million deal that created RCCH Healthcare Partners.
In 2016, Apollo purchased Capella Healthcare from Medical Properties Trust and merged it into RCCH Healthcare to make a combined worth of $1.7 billion. In 2018, Apollo purchased LifePoint Health for $5.6 billion and merged it with RCCH under the LifePoint Health brand.
The 2019 acquisition of 10 LifePoint Hospitals (including ORHC) by Medical Properties Trust for $700 million in what is known as a sale-leaseback transaction was of “particular concern” to Grassley. Those kinds of transactions have been characterized as a “Ponzi finance” scheme that dumps losses onto patients, communities, investors, and taxpayers, according to Grassley.
in 2021, Apollo resold LifePoint Health back to itself resulting in a $1.6 billion gain.15 At the same time, LifePoint received an almost identical amount, $1.64 billion in COVID stimulus aid, including almost $650 million in grants that the company will not have to pay back.
“While all of this sounds like a bad Hollywood movie, it happened at a hospital in my home state of Iowa. When I see the type of tragic lapses that occurred at Ottumwa Regional − the sexual assault of nine female patients by a now-deceased nurse practitioner who overdosed and died at the facility − it raises serious questions with respect to whether these hospitals have the right resources or if they are being loaded with overwhelming amounts of debt to the point where they are forced to shift money away from patient care. When multiple financial transactions involving the same hospital systems occur,
patients can get lost in the equation,” Grassley expressed in his letter.
The letter was addressed to officials at Medical Properties Trust, Warburg Pincus, LifePoint Health, Apollo Global Management, and the Chairman of the ORHC Board of Trustees.
Grassley listed questions regarding the hospital’s financial stability and also asked about ORHC’s vetting and drug testing of its employees. The senator requested the answers to his inquiries be provided by the end of March.
In a statement to the Ottumwa Courier, ORHC Public Information Officer Cara Clouse said, “We, like the senator and his team, are deeply disturbed by the conduct of a former ORHC employee, which violated our policies and fundamental values, and we continue to engage with law enforcement and other officials on this issue. ORHC has proudly served the people of Southeast Iowa for over 125 years, and we continue to support and invest in ORHC to provide the best possible care to the people of Ottumwa.”