Closure of Glenwood care center means concern for families and staff

GLENWOOD, Iowa. (KMTV) – Sybil Finken is a mother whose son, Seth, needs 24/7 care. Whether it’s food or medicine, he can’t do anything without help.

“Seth is deaf, blind and in a wheelchair. He can’t communicate. He had meningitis as a baby and was badly damaged, so he needs…it’s really tough,” Finken said.

Seth has been staying at the Glenwood Resource Center (GRC) since the 1980s. Finken raised serious concerns after the Department of Justice investigation into the facility found that some patients’ rights had been violated. But Finken thinks shutting it down isn’t the solution.

“When we last met with Department of Social Services management and RCMP management, they said there were no plans to close the facility, but that changed quickly,” Finken said.

The DOJ conducted a two-part investigation that focused on a three-year period: 2017 to 2020. The DOJ report found that the facility was ignoring requests for necessary care and performing human experiments.

“We just needed to get the administration out of the way. Management needed to be changed and that’s hard work,” Finken said.

Heads of state say the facility faces significant challenges such as a lack of staff. The plan is to move residents into community placements (group homes within communities) or the Woodward Resource Center, which is nearly a two and a half hour drive from Glenwood.

Finken worries that the state is far from ready to take care of everyone.

“We have a clientele of very severely disabled people and the community doesn’t have the expertise to care for them,” Finken said.

However, Finken confides his greatest fear: what will become of his son?

“I knew he was going to get bigger, never get better, just get bigger. One person can’t do that,” Finken said.

Currently, there are 152 residents at the Glenwood facility. The state promises to work with residents and their families to ensure Glenwood’s transition to a new home goes smoothly.

Mayor Ron Kohn says the property will become community property and multiple organizations will be able to purchase it to convert into businesses or homes. He does not yet know what the state standards are for buying it.

Approximately 600 employees work at the RCMP. Kohn says the state has training and resources for employment and expects it to help employees find post-shutdown opportunities. He says almost everyone in the town is affected in some way.

“It’s been a good resource for a lot of people – a way to get busy and a chance to serve the people up there.”

RELATED: Despite potential budget cut, Iowa DHS says future of facility under DOJ investigation secure

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