A California woman is raising questions about the process of transferring her sister out of the soon-to-be-closed Mental Health Institute in Clarinda.
“I feel in many ways that I’m not being told the entire truth. I don’t know who to believe. I don’t know who to trust,” Janice Scalise of Palm Springs, California, said Monday afternoon.
Janice Scalise is the legal guardian for her 63-year-old sister Carol Scalise, a schizophrenic who is among the 15 patients state officials are trying to transfer out of the state-run facility in Clarinda. Janice said the state didn’t notify her the Clarinda facility was closing. She found out when she stumbled across a story about it online in February. She was hoping to spend this week visiting some places in Iowa where her sister may be moved, but was told by state officials working on the transfer process none have been identified.
“I’ve pretty much succumbed to the fact that the MHI was closing on June 15 and switched my energy to finding a replacement home for my sister, but that hasn’t happened,” Scalise said.
Scalise testified Monday before the Senate Oversight Committee. The panel’s chairman called in top officials from the state agency that oversees the MHIs to testify as well and Rick Shults, an administrator in the Iowa Department of Human Services, directly addressed Scalise’s concerns.
“We have many guardians that are out-of-state, don’t necessarily have the opportunity to come in,” Shuls said, “but we really greatly appreciate you coming in to see us and I am confident that we will have something for you to look at this week for your sister.”
State officials say their goal is to find an appropriate setting for each patient, but Scalice worries there’s no plan B for patients like her sister if they can’t find proper placements by June 15.
“They’re vague,” she told reporters. “They have no clue what they’re going to do.”
Scalise’s sister has serious physical health problems in addition to her psychiatric diagnosis. She’s a diabetic and is confined to wheelchair.
“I worry every day (about) the transition, she’s not going to be able to take it,” Scalise said
Scalise said her sister is happy, content and well cared for at the Clarinda facility.
“Now I’m not saying that there isn’t another place out there. I’m not saying that at all,” Janice Scalise said. “If there is, I’d like to see it.”
The head of the Iowa Department of Human Services told legislators it may not be possible to transfer six of the 15 patients in the geriatric psych ward in Clarinda to a private facility by his June 15 deadline. Four of those elderly patients are men who are convicted sex offenders. One of them was transferred to the locked facility in Clarinda after abusing a woman in a Pomeroy nursing home in 2011.