On the Road in Iowa and Kansas

On the Road in Iowa and Kansas

My apologies to my readers for the gap in posting. Since the release of my book, Raymond’s Room, and with the end of the fiscal year, I have been very busy. Right now I am in Kansas, having just arrived from Iowa, where I presented at a statewide Case Management Conference.

I spoke to numerous Iowa professionals who were frustrated with the lack of options for people with disabilities, especially for those who wanted to leave their sheltered workshops. Iowa also still has two institutions for people with developmental disabilities, and a number of large Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF-MRs) to provide housing.

One institution, in Glenwood, where about 400 people now live, was recommended just a few years ago to be shut down by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals following the death of a female resident and several reports of sexual abuse of other residents. The woman, who was blind, had trouble walking, and was supposed to be supervised, fell head-first down a staircase. She died a few weeks later after being hospitalized with multiple neck and rib fractures. The other allegations involve a staff member who is suspected of sexually abusing five residents and bullying coworkers. It is touted by the state as the “first state facility of its type to house ALL of its people in normalized community housing.” Normalized?

The other institution, in Woodward, also has had serious problems. A 45-year-old resident, who had mental retardation and cerebral palsy, suffocated to death due to staff restraint in 2001. The resident had begun kicking, hitting and spitting at staff members. Several responded by putting him into a device that held his wrists to a waist belt. They then held him face-down on the floor for at least 15 minutes. According to official reports, the staff refused to release him even though he began sobbing and repeatedly said he was sorry. It was only at the point where one staff member noticed that resident’s skin was turning dark blue that they turned him over and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. The Des Moines Register reported that the institution had been cited for more than two dozen violations related to restraints.

Both institutions remain open today.

Both are deemed as necessary by Iowa state leadership.

Really? The following states have closed ALL their institutions for people with developmental disabilities:

  • Alaska
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Labrador has closed all of their institutions
  • for persons with intellectual disabilities.
  • The Province of Ontario is actively preparing
  • to close its last three remaining institutions.

C’mon Iowa. Join the movement to full inclusion. It’s time to leave the last century behind.