At a time when state government faces deep budget cuts in an effort to stave off a huge projected shortfall, the Iowa Department of Human Service is hiring a consultant to study the embattled Glenwood Resource Center. The consultant will be paid $167,000 for eight months’ work.
D.H.S. spokesman Roger Munns says the consultant will start work next week, analyzing the challenges and making recommendations for the state-run center for people with disabilities.
"We needed some extra administrative horsepower at the institution because we’ve lost two of the top key positions," Munns says. "The superintendent and one of the assistant superintendents both retired in the fall and both are now filled with interim people, very qualified, of course. The addition of the consultant will help us shore up those efforts."
About 315 people with mental retardation live at the facility in Glenwood. Last year, there were 11 resident deaths. One of the deaths resulted in more than $11,000 in fines against the home in a ruling earlier this week. Munns says the consultant, Judith Johnston of Alabama, is an expert in the field of mental retardation and will help Glenwood become federally compliant with civil rights codes.
"She is going to assist us in maintaining momentum towards reaching standards required by the Department of Justice," Munns says. "There’s a settlement the state reached in 2004." He says Johnston had considered applying for the vacant superintendent’s post, but decided on the short-term commitment of the consultant’s job instead.
"She’ll be evaluating the services and making recommendations there," Munns says. "She’ll be evaluating the training system and making recommendations for that. She’s quite a specialist." Published reports say another $250,000 will be spent for another consultant to review the conditions at Glenwood, in addition to the $167,000 Johnston’s salary. Munns disputes the newspaper’s characterization.
Munns says, "Her salary is a consultant. The other portion however is not a consultant. The other one is a contract to conduct an investigation into the deaths at Glenwood over the last year. That will be the 4th or 5th investigation that’s been approved but that’s not a consultant."
Glenwood has been fined nearly $50,000 in the past year for various errors and problems, reportedly more than any other care facility in the state.