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Clarinda Mental Health Institute Closes

Relatives Upset About Moving Patients 

Amid disagreements between the governor’s office and relatives of patients, Clarinda Mental Health Institute, a state run psychiatric hospital in Clarinda, Iowa closed on June 30, 2015. All 53 employees of the hospital are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

With the Clarinda hospital shutting its doors, the trend of hospital closures in 2015 continues.

In January, Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad made the decision to close the mental health hospital, though the closure was only implemented many months later. Besides for choosing to close the hospital in Clarinda, the governor at the same time also decided to close another state run psychiatric hospital, Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Hospital Was Old and Losing Money

Brandstad claimed that that the decision to close the Clarinda hospital was based upon detailed reports that the hospital was in bad need of renovations, and that the services provided were on an efficiency level that was below par.

Brandstad also noted, that transferring patients to private mental healthcare centers would mean that families would actually save money on their monthly payments to the facility that would care for their relatives.

Families Say State Hospitals Were Better

Relatives and private groups, who are opposed to the closure of Clarinda Mental Health Institute, argued that certain patients, especially the ones that had the more complicated mental issues, would not be able to find the care they needed in private mental healthcare agencies.

Additionally, these parties cited the concern of simply moving a psychiatric patient, as a problem. For many in that delicate situation, a move to a different facility could be very hard on them. They’re nervous that this may lead to a decline in some of the patients’ health, and perhaps even death.

State Keeping Patients at New Homes

Several weeks before the closure of the Clarinda Hospital, the state already transferred patients to other facilities. The state claims they looked into each case and found the appropriate fit for each person.

Five of the former patients at Clarinda Mental Health Institute were moved to Perry Health Care Center. Relatives claim that according to a federal registry, some of the new homes for the patients, including Perry, were ranked below average in quality healthcare service.

“The state does not plan to transfer the  former Clarinda patients out of the Perry Health Care Center,” said Iowa Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer, “We believe that the Perry nursing home is providing good care.”

Following Up on Patient Moves

Besides for finding the suitable facilities for each and every patient, the state follows up to see if something additional could be done to help the patient transition better into his or her new home.

“Department staff continue to do frequent on-site visits of all former residents and are in touch regularly with their families,” said Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy McCoy. “These former residents are often elderly and have complex medical and mental health needs, and there are several agencies monitoring their continued care.”