Reaction to local woman being charged with neglect

MASON CITY, Iowa –  A local woman is facing several charges after she’s accused of leaving the residents that she was supposed to be in charge of, all alone, at a Mason City assisted living home.

54-year old Debra Ihrig from Rudd is facing more than ten counts of neglect after walking away from her shift at Country Meadow Place Assisted Living.

On April 5th, Ihrig showed up to work for at least a few hours that’s according to the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office but then they say she just left.

It happened between the hours of 1am and 6 am.

And now folks are reacting to the news.

For Kim Doughty, helping the elderly is a job he loves.

At Elderbridge Agency on Aging, he works to help the elderly find out all the services that are out there for them.

And that takes a lot of trust from doughty’s part and the outside world as well.

“Because they tend to get more and more complex as the challenges for seniors go up and up,” said Doughty.

So when he heard about this weekend’s arrest of a woman who allegedly walked away from her shift at an assisted living home, he was shocked.

“In this time of day when you have a cell phone right at your beck and call there probably isn’t really excuse for somebody just abandoning ship so to speak,” said Doughty.

And according to the investigator of the case that’s the same feeling among those at country meadow place assisted living where it happened.

“It’s really concerning because their health and their safety is at stake and if something happened at night we need a staff there too make sure they get the help,” said Deputy Brian Feld with the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office.

Feld says there’s a reason Ihrig is being charged with so many felony counts, nine in all, and possibly more after the investigation.

“There were people with medical issues that the six that were charged with felonies they had some medical problems they needed to be checked on during the night so if something could have happened,” said Feld.

And for this reason, those like Doughty can’t stress enough that if you take a job where you are responsible for others’ lives, it should never be taken lightly.

“Has to be ingrained in people that has those kind of care challenges to say you have some responsibility here you need to realize and take that very much to heart you are the responsible person,” said Doughty.

We reached out to the agency in charge of the assisted living home in Mason City.

Vice President of Operations is taking this very seriously and does not condone this behavior.

They say this is the first time they have had this happen with this particular employee and in general.

No residents were harmed while Ihrig was gone.

Meanwhile, Ihrig has been charged with six counts of neglect or abandonment of a dependant person and nine counts of neglect of a dependant adult.

More charges are possible.

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