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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

All residents have been transferred from soon-to-close Glenwood Resource Center

All residents have been transferred from soon-to-close Glenwood Resource Center
 
 

Iowa Department of Health and Human Services director Kelly Garcia says the closure of the state-run Glenwood Resource Center is nearly complete.

"Our last resident moved to the community yesterday afternoon," Garcia says, "so as of last night, there were no residents left at Glenwood."

Glenwood has provided residential care for Iowans with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. After federal investigations raised concerns about the welfare of residents, Governor Reynolds announced two years ago that Glenwood would be closed on June 30th of this year. Garcia says it was important to make that decision public, to give residents, their guardians and employees time to plan for the transition.

"That facility's been open since 1836 and there are generations of individuals who have dedicated their life's work to serving vulnerable Iowans. There's deep relationships there with employees and it is the largest employer in the town...The closure decision I think a few folks are still grieving and that is understandable."

U-S Justice Department investigators cited the facility for subjecting residents to unethical experiments and for providing poor medical care to residents. Garcia says because of those federal reports, she had to hire part-time, temporary medical staff because full time clinicians would not take jobs at Glenwood due to its reputation. 

"I had a number of physicians that despite very high salary numbers just didn't want to take that step," Garcia said, "and felt like it would be a turn in their own career and bring something onto them personally that they just didn't want to do."

About 150 residents were at the facility when its eventual closure was announced in April of 2022. Direct care workers and other staff were offered quarterly bonuses to stay on the job.

"The individuals who stayed after we made the closure announcement, I mean it's just absolutely heroic and I continue to use that word because it fits," Garcia says. "To do that every day, to do that every day when you know you're going to lose your job is commendable."

Garcia says over 200 employees are staying through June 30th and they'll get another bonus of 10-thousand dollars. 

"Because we no longer have clients on campus, the full force of the team is now focused on the last pieces of kind of decommissioning the property. We obviously have a lot of equipment that needs to be sold on GovDeals.com, needs to go to other storage spaces," Garcia said. "We have records and a variety of things on a campus that has been open as many years as this one has."

The Glenwood Resource Center campus covers nearly 400 acres. After July 1st, about 20 state employees will work to maintain the campus until the property is turned over to the community. Garcia says January 1st is the target date for the transfer.

"The community has come up with a beautiful plan. There's a lot of economic development work happening in that area of the state and it's a space where they don't have enough housing and so they have a plan," Garcia says. "The Department of Natural Resources, DOT, (Iowa Economic Development Authority) and (Iowa Finance Authority) have been deeply involved helping them understand kind of the pathway to execute on that vision."

Some Glenwood staff members have taken jobs at other state-run facilities, including the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and the Woodward State Resource Center which provides temporary residential services to Iowans with disabilities. Garcia says a few of the direct care workers at Glenwood are providing in-home care to former Glenwood residents.

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