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Federal officials would monitor Iowa's Glenwood Resource Center under proposed settlement

glenwood resource center
Katie Peikes
/
IPR file
The federal government would monitor Iowa’s troubled Glenwood Resource Center for the next few years under a proposed settlement.

The federal government would monitor Iowa’s troubled Glenwood Resource Center for the next few years under a proposed settlement between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DOJ began investigating the state-run facility in 2019 and found the state was likely violating the constitutional rights of Iowans with intellectual and developmental disabilities by subjecting them to human experimentation and poor medical care.

In April of this year, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that the state plans to close the GRC in 2024.

The new agreement between the state and federal government has yet to be approved by a court. But it contains a long list of requirements for the state to follow as it moves GRC residents out.

“People with disabilities should not be subjected to the kind of unconstitutional conditions and ill treatment that too many have experienced at Glenwood,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “This agreement makes clear that the basic constitutional rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in state-run facilities must be protected.”

Clarke said the agreement ensures adequate oversight and accountability, and requires the state to help people leaving Glenwood transition to the most integrated setting possible with appropriate services.

A statement from Iowa Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Alex Carfrae says 32 residents have left the GRC since the state announced the plan to close the facility in April, and that GRC has a “historically low census of 118.”

Carfrae said the state is trying to ensure there are targeted investments to build community-based services, and that multiple providers have expressed interest in providing those services so that Glenwood residents can be supported without living in an institution.

“HHS is committed to providing the highest level of care possible at Glenwood, until the last resident transitions,” the statement reads.

The settlement prohibits uncontrolled and unsupervised experiments, requires better staffing, limits restraints and seclusion, requires more state oversight of Glenwood, requires more transparency, and more.

The timing of the end of the settlement depends on when GRC closes, how many GRC residents end up at the Woodward Resource Center, and when the state is determined to be in compliance with all of the provisions for at least a year.

The DOJ and Iowa have yet to reach an agreement on the DOJ’s separate finding that Iowa is keeping too many people with disabilities in institutions. The Woodward Resource Center is slated to remain open.

The agreement announced Thursday says if more than one-third of Glenwood residents move to Woodward, the settlement terms will apply to Woodward, too.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter