The first set of residents with profound intellectual disabilities moved out of the state-run Glenwood Resource Center last week.

The facility, where over 150 adults were living this spring, is scheduled to close in 2024. Iowa Health and Human Services director Kelly Garcia says 27 community providers have stepped forward as options for Glenwood residents.

“That includes a pretty significant investment in building out home and community-based services in southwest Iowa,” Garcia says, “but it also includes building out those services for those individuals who might want to live closer to home, wherever that home is in Iowa.”

Providers have been meeting on the Glenwood campus with the legal guardians for residents to discuss their options for care elsewhere. The state will host another “provider fair” at the state-run Woodward Resource Center this fall.

“We continue to work with guardians who still have questions and it’s our obligation to make that they feel safe and understand the choice that they have to make this move,” Garcia says. “But we are also having some tough conversations there.”

Garcia says decisions need to be made, to ensure residents get the care and services they need when they leave the facility. Glenwood’s closure follows a federal investigation of allegations that residents were being mistreated and were not getting adequate medical care. The Department of Justice concluded that with the right support services, nearly all residents could live in community-based settings. Garcia says very few Glenwood residents will be transferred to nursing homes.

“I want to be very clear. Our individuals are not slated to go to nursing facilities unless they otherwise meet a nursing facility level of care and are kind of in that end of life stage,” Garcia says. “…We are really heavily focused on community based options.”

Garcia is now the director of an expanded agency, renamed the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. Plans are underway to fold the Department on Aging into the agency. And the state is hiring a California company to join two other private firms managing Iowa Medicaid, which Garcia says now provides health care services for one-third of the state’s residents.

“This is a real new day in our agency and we are invigorated,” Garcia says, “and we are very much up for the challenge.”

Garcia made her comments during an interview with Radio Iowa.