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State plans to close troubled Glenwood facility for Iowans with disabilities in 2024

The Glenwood Resource Center is a state-run facility for Iowans with severe disabilities.
Katie Peikes
IPR file
The state plans to close the Glenwood Resource Center for Iowans with severe disabilities in 2024.

The state-run Glenwood Resource Center for Iowans with severe disabilities will be closed in 2024, according to state officials.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice found Glenwood residents were subjected to harmful human experimentation and poor medical care. The DOJ later said the state was likely violating federal law by caring for Iowans with disabilities in institutions rather than in their homes and communities. There was also a spike in deathsat the southwest Iowa facility a few years ago.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the plan to close the GRC in a news release Thursday.

“While necessary, the decision to close the Glenwood Resource Center is a difficult one that I take very seriously,” she said. “For many residents, it’s the only home they’ve ever known. I am fully committed to a seamless and successful transition of care for them, their families and the staff at Glenwood.”

The state is continuing negotiations with the federal government to address its concerns. But according to the news release, Reynolds along with Republican Statehouse leaders decided they could not meet the DOJ’s expectations “for services, workforce, and additional investment at GRC.”

“Despite significant effort over the last two years to improve care and respond to DOJ directives, continued operation of the Glenwood Resource Center has become untenable,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny.

The Iowa Department of Human Services plans to move some residents to the Woodward Resource Center, the other state-run facility for people with disabilities. And some residents would be moved to home and community-based care.

State officials say they plan to invest in building up community-based services and expand services at the Woodward facility.

The state is also offering retention incentives to GRC staff to stay on and help with moving residents out of the facility.

State Democratic leaders said this is a “devastating day” for residents, their families and GRC employees.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls and House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said state lawmakers must ensure the safest, smoothest transition possible for everyone affected by the closure.

“This decision became inevitable because of years of indifference and neglect shown to the Glenwood community by Gov. Reynolds and Republican lawmakers,” they said. “This transition must be handled far better than previous closures, like those in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant.”

Iowa health officials were at GRC beginning Thursday to meet with family members and staff, according to the governor’s office.

Lawmakers say they will also work to connect GRC staff with new work opportunities in the future and will try to find new uses for the campus.

More information and updates from the state can be found here.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter