State officials say an investigation has found seven residents in a state facility for people with profound intellectual disabilities were physically abused by the staff and 13 clients were “subjected to verbal abuse or neglect.”

Amy McCoy, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), says the investigation at the Glenwood State Resource Center was launched back in September. “We received a report that there was client mistreatment happening…from that investigation, we looked at some other reports that had been made as well, and really did a deep dive into what was happening,” McCoy said.

The DHS announced Wednesday that six employees at the facility in southwest Iowa have been fired. Six others resigned during the investigation. “The client mistreatment involved a range of things, including hitting a client, allowing peer-to-peer aggression, neglecting some clients’ personal care needs, and talking abusively to and around clients,” McCoy said. State officials say criminal charges are possible.

The complaints centered mainly on activities at four of the 17 residential “homes” on the Glenwood campus during the “night shift.” In addition to the dozen staff members who either resigned or were fired, five other workers were kept on, but some sort of disciplinary action was taken against them.

“We have increased supervision of staff, including doubling supervision on weekends and evenings,” McCoy said. “We’ve increased the frequency of middle and top management rounds at the homes and at varying times. We’re retraining supervisors and managers on the signs and symptoms of mistreatment, and we’re requiring all staff to be retrained on the standards of client treatment.”

About 230 people with intellectual disabilities live on the Glenwood campus. “The good news is that the majority of our staff do a wonderful job taking care of our clients. They have difficult jobs meeting people’s complex needs and we want to make sure we do that in the safest manner,” McCoy said. “We have more than 770 staff and this was a small number of those staff members who we’ve taken action against.”

In a news release, the facility’s superintendent calls the actions against residents “shameful and unacceptable,” but he said it should “not detract from the dedicated work of the vast majority of staff members.”

(Thanks to Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)