Iowa to close long-struggling disability center

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that has been the subject of persistent criticism and federal investigations will close, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday.

The Glenwood Resource Center, which has treated the vulnerable since the early 1900s, will close by June 30, 2024. The facility, about 185 miles southwest of Des Moines, has 152 patients and a staff of about 650 people.

The state will begin moving patients in July, sending about 60 to another state-run facility in Woodward and another 10 to community housing. Over the next year, transitions will continue until the center closes, with plans to sell the facility by July 1, 2024.

Reynolds announced the closure months after the US Department of Justice strongly condemned Iowa’s treatment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

A letter and report sent to the state in December by Justice Department officials said Iowa was unnecessarily institutionalizing people with developmental disabilities and that the state’s treatment likely violated US federal persons law. disabilities by failing to provide services that integrate patients into their communities.

“Iowans with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve quality care that meets DOJ expectations. Our best path forward to achieve these standards is to close the RCMP and reinvest in a continuum of community care that provides a wide range of services,” Reynolds said in a statement.

His statement also included comments from Republican legislative leaders in support of the decision.

Democratic leaders Sen. Zach Wahls and Rep. Jennifer Konfrst said in a statement that the decision was inevitable “due to years of indifference and neglect to the community of Glenwood by Governor Reynolds and lawmakers. Republicans”.

The DOJ report says officials in Iowa have known for years that community support for people with complex medical and behavioral needs is insufficient and acknowledged that they had failed to meaningfully assess the capacity of the community service system.

Federal officials said Iowa has one of the nation’s highest percentages of residents with developmental disabilities who live in institutions.

A 2002 DOJ investigation found that conditions at Glenwood and Woodward were constitutionally flawed. An agreement was then concluded for the State to “encourage and help people to move towards the most integrated circles”.

The state won a grant in 2007 to help overcome its approach that favored institutionalizing people, but the December 2021 report said the state had failed to adequately expand services and support communities, including crisis intervention.

On Nov. 21, 2019, the DOJ notified Iowa of a new investigation, and in a December 2020 report, federal officials said the Glenwood center likely violated residents’ constitutional rights by subjecting them to experiments. human beings, including research on sexual arousal. Some of the experiments were deemed dangerous by federal investigators.

Reynolds promised a smooth transition for residents, help to help state employees find other jobs, and help to identify other uses for the Glenwood campus after it closes.

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