- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

CLARINDA, Iowa (AP) - Officials from the state Mental Health Institute at Clarinda have begun to transfer mentally ill senior citizens from the facility to private nursing homes.

The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1HKZayE ) reports that a spokeswoman for the state facility confirmed Wednesday that only about a dozen patients, who are considered to be some of the toughest cases the institution handles, will be affected. The institute itself is scheduled to close by July 1.

The Department of Human Services says that it is looking for safe placements for the senior citizens. Patient advocates say most of the senior citizens in the program were placed in the institution because private facilities found them too difficult to handle, and several relatives of patients at the institution are concerned about what will happen to their loved ones.

Richard Jansen, whose 66-year-old sister lives at the institution, fears that a nursing home will deem her too disruptive and not accept her. His sister has several psychiatric issues including schizophrenia.

“What’s going to keep them from throwing her out?” he asked. “Where would she go then?”

Department spokeswoman Amy McCoy said that some of the transfers have taken place, but declined to say how many of the residents have been moved. McCoy said that most of the other patients at the Clarinda institute have conditions that are equivalent to the types of mental illnesses that private nursing homes routinely handle.

“With more than 400 nursing facilities in Iowa, there are appropriate placements that are available and equipped to serve this type of resident,” McCoy said in an email to the paper.

According to state Sen. Amanda Ragan, a democrat from Mason City, staff at the institution told her that some of the senior citizens in the geriatric mental health program have failed in 13 or more other facilities before they arrived at the Clarinda institution.

“It’s a place of last resort,” said Ragan.

Ragan says that the idea of establishing a private program for such residents has been considered for several years, but financial concerns have stood in the way of any progress.


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

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