The acting superintendent of Iowa’s largest mental health facility has been given the job permanently. Thomas Hoogestraat has worked for 30 years at the Glenwood Resource Center which provides care to mentally retarded Iowans. “I’ll continue to move us in the direction that we need to move in,” Hoogestraat says. He cites a recent agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that outlines ways in which services to patients are to improve — there’s to be a greater focus on moving some patients to group homes and a reduced use of physical restraints. Hoogestraat says Glenwood has changed dramatically over his tenure there. Hoogestraat says when he started, there were over eight-hundred patients and more than 12-hundred employees at the Glenwood Resource Center. Today, about three-hundred-90 mentally retarded patients reside in Glenwood, and there are about eight-hundred-50 employees on the Glenwood payroll. Hoogestraat says the quality of care has changed dramatically over the years, with a greater focus today on the medical needs of patients as well as on developing programs that will help change the behavior of residents. In the past few years, several group homes have opened near Glenwood and Glenwood residents have moved into those homes. Hoogestraat, though, sees a continued need for Glenwood but conceeds the number of patients in the facility may continue to dwindle as more group homes for the mentally retarded open around the state. In 1970, Hoogestraat was a college student hired to work in Glenwood’s laundry room, then he worked as an activity aide. He graduated with a degree in sociology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was hired as a social worker in 1975. Hoogestraat was born and raised in Arcadia, a small town in northwest Iowa near Carroll.
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