Deaths at Iowa's Glenwood, A Home For Disabled Lead To Lawsuit

Under a court order since November of 2004, the Glenwood Resource Center of Glenwood, Iowa, a state-run home for the disabled, has experienced one death per month for the last thirteen months. Ironically, they quote Aristotle for their “quality quote,” which reads, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”


For those who are unfamiliar with the recent articles written by the Des Moines Register’s Clark Kauffman, the facts of this tragic series of incidents are these:


· Glenwood Resource Center has been operating under a court order, enforced by the United States Justice Department since November of 2004. Glenwood was given three years—until October of 2007—to comply with minimum standards of care. Glenwood was given another year to comply with the court order when deadline was extended to October of 2008. The October 2008 deadline passed with no action against Glenwood.

· Unable to complete many of the duties listen in their job descriptions because they were not licensed within the State of Iowa, the two previous medical directors had either no experience in running a medical center or had a lot of experience in filing lawsuits and providing questionable care.

· Over the past 14 months, Glenwood has employed nine unlicensed psychologists who answered to yet another unlicensed employee, the psychology administrator, for a total of 11 unlicensed staff members. However, none of the nine psychologists can be reprimanded because Iowa law only requires private, for-profit psychologists to comply with state licensing requirements.

· A lawsuit was filed by Georgette Alexander of Oskaloosa after her son, a Glenwood resident, died when he was not properly monitored following a choking incident.

· Iowa Governor, Chet Culver, who refused to make public a multitude of e-mails among his staff relating to the death of the Glenwood resident, now claims to be concerned and expects changes to be made.


This series of unfortunate events raises eyebrows as well as questions. Why are both Governor Culver and the U.S. Department of Justice allowing the extension of deadlines? Within forty-eight hours of the October 2007 deadline another Glenwood resident died due to inadequate nursing care. Additionally, why has there been no adverse action taken against Glenwood for failing to meet the October 2008 deadline? Why would Glenwood follow any deadline, when it is apparent that there are no repercussions when they are failed to be met?


Another issue, which leads to problems at Glenwood Resource Center, is the fact that Section 154B.3(3) of the Code of Iowa requires only private, for-profit psychologists to obtain a license within the state of Iowa in order to practice.


In another recent article by the Des Moines Register, Governor Culver claimed that the Glenwood center is making progress in implementing the 2004 court order. One would certainly hope so; the 315 residents at Glenwood have been waiting four years.

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