Government

Some Glenwood center staff fired, quit in abuse investigation

State-run facility serves those with intellectual, developmental disabilities

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

A dozen state employees were fired or resigned after an investigation found that multiple intellectually disabled residents at Glenwood State Resource Center were being abused or neglected.

“We’ve taken aggressive employee action and dramatically increased supervision to ensure our clients are safe and treated properly in their homes,” said Richard Shults, administrator of Mental Health and Disability Services for Iowa Department of Human Services, in a news release Wednesday. “State facilities do not tolerate mistreatment of clients and we require staff to report concerns immediately.”

The state-run facility in Glenwood, in southwest Iowa, serves about 230 clients with intellectual or developmental disabilities from across the state. Clients have significant behavioral challenges or medical conditions that require intensive, complex treatment.

The DHS investigations found that seven clients were the subject of physical abuse and another 13 were subjected to verbal abuse or neglect. No clients required medical treatment, DHS said.

The first incident was reported in late September, DHS spokeswoman Amy McCoy said. Mistreatment included hitting a client, allowing peer-to-peer aggression, neglecting client personal care needs, talking abusively to and around clients, and teasing them.

“This was a small group of bad actors,” McCoy said, adding the nearly 800 employees at the 230-acre campus “work hard to treat clients with dignity and respect.”

DHS immediately placed the staff members on administrative leave pending investigations and notified the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and local law enforcement. McCoy is not aware of any criminal charges being filed.

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Families and guardians of clients who were subject to mistreatment also were notified of the investigations, according to DHS.

In addition to the six employees whose employment was terminated and the six who resigned during the investigations, disciplinary action was taken against five staff and one action is pending.

Glenwood also has increased supervision of staff, retrained supervisors on the signs of mistreatment, and is retraining staff.

“We hope the shameful and unacceptable behavior of a few staff will not detract from the dedicated work of the vast majority of staff members that provide high quality services to Glenwood’s clients,” said Gary Anders, Glenwood superintendent.

l Comments: (319) 398-8331; chelsea.keenan@thegazette.com

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