Last Day at Clarinda Mental Health Institute

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CLARINDA, Iowa -- It was a somber last day for workers at Clarinda Mental Health Institute.

Around 40 employees and retirees gathered for a last pot luck lunch at the facility. The last patient was moved to another location last Friday.

The closing means 53 employees will be laid off. The Mt. Pleasant facility will also close laying off 28 employees.

"Today is a very sad day," said former MHI Registered Nurse Ann Davison. "It's a sad day for all the 53 employees, sad day for Clarinda, sad for all the mentally ill in this state who no longer have a place to receive services."

Workers are concerned for their future employment, but also expressed concern for those patients who had to be moved to other locations. One patient being moved could not understand why.

"He couldn't figure out what he did wrong," said Kathy Sorensen, who has been a nurse at MHI for 10 years. "He left on Thursday morning, and he kept telling the staff, 'I thought I was good, why am I leaving?"

The Department of Human Services released this statement regarding MHI closings:

"While the legislature approved funding for operations of the two MHI facilities, the Governor has not taken final action on all the bills which could impact the availability of funding for the MHI's next year- which begins July 1."

The Governor had recommended aligning with two other MHI facilities in Cherokee and Independence to serve patients.

The DHS statement also recognized employee concerns:

"We understand this is a difficult time for our staff as we realign the state's mental health institutes, and we thank them for their dedicated service throughout the years and during this transition period."