- Associated Press - Sunday, August 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former residents at a state-run mental health facility that closed this year are now scattered throughout Iowa, with some living in nursing homes that are considered below average on a federal registry.

The 18 residents were part of a state program for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. The program was housed at the Iowa Mental Health Institute at Clarinda, which Gov. Terry Branstad ordered closed, saying it was outdated and inefficient, according to the Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1PeQ2Df ).

Supporters of the Clarinda program said it cared for some of the frailest and most complicated psychiatric patients in the state

Eight patients were transferred to four traditional nursing homes, all of which are rated “below average” or “much below average” on a federal registry.

The four facilities are in the bottom 29 percent of Iowa nursing homes for overall quality, according to the Medicare registry. Two of those eight patients died shortly after their transfers.

State human services officials say they went to great lengths to find suitable placements for the former Clarinda patients, and relatives were often involved in choosing the new facilities. The officials also say they are closely monitoring how the former Clarinda patients are faring.

But relatives of some of the patients say they’re displeased with their loved ones’ care, especially at the Perry Health Care Center in Perry.

The Perry nursing home’s quality is rated “below average” by Medicare, earning two stars on a five-star system. It also has been repeatedly fined by state inspectors.

Bruce Mehlhop, manager of the company that owns the Perry Health Care Center, acknowledged the facility is rated “below average” but said that’s partly because of recent changes in how nursing homes are rated for their use of anti-psychotic drugs. The Perry nursing home has used those medications because it accepts people with mental illness, he said.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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