GLENWOOD, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Human Services has fired six employees at the Glenwood Resource Center, and six others resigned after an investigation into abuse and neglect.
The department started its investigation in late September after allegations of client mistreatment and staff failure to report incidents in a timely manner. An inquiry that ended recently found that seven clients were the subject of physical abuse, according to the Human Services Department. Thirteen clients were subjected to verbal abuse or neglect.
No clients required medical treatment, the department said.
The former staff members are accused of hitting a client; allowing peer-to-peer aggression; neglecting client personal care needs; talking abusively to and around clients; and teasing clients.
The clients reside at four of the 17 homes on the 230-acre campus in Glenwood in Mills County.
“We’ve taken aggressive employee action and dramatically increased supervision to ensure our clients are safe and treated properly in their homes,” Richard Shults, administrator of mental health and disability services for Human Services Department, said in a release. “State facilities do not tolerate mistreatment of clients, and we require staff to report concerns immediately.”
After the allegations were made, the former employees were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Families and guardians of clients who were subject to mistreatment were also notified of the investigations.
The department said that it took additional disciplinary action against five other staff members and that one action is pending. The majority of the incidents involved employees working the evening shift.
A message left with the Glenwood Police Department regarding possible criminal charges was not immediately returned Wednesday.
“Action will be taken should any additional findings conclude client mistreatment or failure to report incidents timely,” the release said.
“If any new incidents are brought to us, we’ll continue to investigate those,” said Amy McCoy, public information officer with the Human Services Department.
Since the investigation began, Human Services officials said the Glenwood Resource Center has taken the following steps to correct the problem:
• Increased supervision of staff, including doubling supervision on weekends and evenings.
• Middle and top managers will make more rounds, at varying times, to check on clients at their homes.
• Retraining supervisors and managers on the signs and symptoms of mistreatment
• Requiring all staff to be retrained on the standards of client treatment and on reporting suspected client mistreatment.
The resource center serves about 230 clients with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are admitted because of significant behavioral challenges or medical conditions that require intensive, complex active treatment, the department said. The facility employs more than 770 people.
“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,” Gary Anders, Glenwood Resource Center superintendent, said in the release. “We remain committed to serving and treating our clients with the dignity and respect they deserve.”