GLENWOOD, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds paid her first visit to the Glenwood Resource Center on Wednesday for the first time since federal and state investigations into alleged experimentation on disabled residents were announced in December.
The Department of Justice began investigating allegations of “uncontrolled” experimentation on residents at the center in November. Those experiments allegedly included studies on sexual arousal and “optimal hydration.” The Iowa Department of Public Safety has launched its own investigation as well. In December, Reynolds fired the facility’s superintendent, Jerry Rea.
Reynolds was joined by Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and DHS Director Kelly Garcia on the tour of the facility in western Iowa on Wednesday. The group met with staff and then boarded a bus to tour the facility. Reynolds said her takeaways from the visit were all positive.
“I was very pleased with the interaction, to speak with employees to talk about what their daily routine looks like. I actually got to visit with several of the individuals that are living here. One woman met me at the bus to take me on a tour of her home,” Reynolds said after the tour, “She was very excited to talk about what she does on a daily basis, to show me the kitchen. They get off-site a lot, they are able to interact with the community. So it was very rewarding to have the opportunity to interact not only with the employees but the individuals that are living here too.”
Director Garcia said she immediately jumped into action by taking “a three-prong approach” to making changes: “Call in the University Of Iowa physicians, to call on our partners at the department of public service to fact find with us on some of the more serious allegations and then the third prong is to have a technical expert on-site and he has been with us and will be with us for another week.”
DHS has contracted with Mark Diorio to provide technical assistance at GRC.
Through this technical assistance, Diorio will:
- Evaluate GRC’s services for compliance to generally accepted practice standards;
- Identify areas of needed improvement;
- Develop an improvement plan to address areas that need improvement;
- Guide the initial implementation of the plan;
- Conduct follow-up review of progress of implementation of the plan, and
- Coordinate with the medical experts evaluating medical care at the GRC.
Director Garcia said the residents of the center probably won’t have to deal with significant changes to their day-to-day activities.
“We are looking at the way we deliver our medical care and that’s a key component of the allegation so when I say I don’t expect their everyday life to change, I’m talking about some of the things that the governor mentioned: which are their outings and integration into the community, what their daily life looks like. Are there spaces where we are revisiting the way that care is delivered? There are, but I’m not sure that they will notice that difference we will notice it on the outcome side of things,” Garcia said.
The Department of Human Services announced further action in response to the investigations and questions about Glenwood. DHS officials will host two town halls at the facility. A family town hall focused on residents will be held on February 1st. Director Garcia and AFSCME, the union which represents Glenwood employees, will hold a meeting with staff on February 6th.
DHS officials say they have also turned over more information and documents requested by the Department of Justice in their investigation. DHS says it will continue to work closely with the DOJ in its investigation.