Zvia McCormick has officially assumed her duties as the new superintendent of the Glenwood Resource Center.
McCormick was hired June 24 to replace R. Scot Booth who resigned abruptly from the position earlier this year after less than six months on the job. Her first official day on the job was July 12.
McCormick brings with her more than two decades of experience as a social worker, working with individuals with various levels of disabilities. McCormick was born in Romania and raised in Israel where she graduated with a degree in social work from Hebrew University. She’s lived and worked all over the world but has called Florida home since the early 1980s.
She comes to the GRC after spending most of her professional career at Tacachale Developmental Disability Center in Gainesville, Fla., first as a social worker then as division director for residential services. In her previous position, McCormick oversaw the 400 patient facility’s residential, employment, recreation and nursing services.
When McCormick was hired she was well aware of the GRC’s history and recent troubles. In April, a federal court ruled the facility was in full compliance of a 1999 court order stemming from a civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of residents at the GRC and sister facility, the Woodward Resource Center. Federal regulators had mandated the resource center limit the use of restraints, update oversight policies for staff and improve nutritional and pharmaceutical care of the facility’s patients. In June, Gov. Chet Culver attended a ceremony congratulating the facility for reaching compliance, calling the move a “real step forward.”
“A lot of work has gone into the improvement over the last six years. So I think its important to pause and celebrate that progress but to also re-commit ourselves to providing the best possible care,” said Culver.
Eight days later, McCormick was tabbed by Culver and Iowa Department of Human Services Director Charles Krogmeier as the new superintendent.
“Obviously the last 10 years have been trying years,” said McCormick. “The center had to look at itself and how they provide services and how they address issues and make a great deal of changes, and they have to get into compliance with DOJ.”
After less than two weeks on the job, McCormick has seen the great strides the facility has made to comply with the DOJ court order and improve on its standard of care.
“Now its time to continue to work,” she said. “And continue the work of the framework DOJ provided to look at things and change services and now we just need to continue. The way I see things, the way it’s been presented to me, the staff is very receptive to getting better, to provide these services and continue the promise we have made. I think there is a great foundation here, a great staff and a great foundation of patient services.”
As the coordinator for all admissions and discharges for Tacachale, McCormick assisted more than 300 residents move into community-based housing, according to a DHS press release.
“I believe people should have options,” said McCormick. “And that people should be served and receive services in the way they live and see themselves. I think the institution is just one option, if we strengthen our community and people can have their life wherever they want to, then the institution is just one of many options.
“People should be able to live in their own homes, they should be supported to live on their own or in group homes. I think we should be cautious to ensure that ‘community’ means a higher quality of life and not just a mini-institution. I think that is very important.”
Booth, the previous GRC superintendent, brought with him a history in special education. McCormick is a social worker, through and through who believes client treatment encompasses many different facets of care.
“Social workers tend to look at people as a whole,” said McCormick. “The quality of life is very important and everything is viewed in a social context in that way. I think I bring the perspective of looking at the whole person from health and safety to connection to family to natural supports to doing what you want to do to having what you want.
“I think social work is just a wider perspective.”
That wider perspective, she added, includes strengthening the GRC’s relationship with the Glenwood community.
“We need to look with an eye towards developing these community supports and helping people live where they want to live,” said McCormick. If the people that have our services are the drivers, then we’ll do what they want us to do.”
McCormick is still unpacking and settling into Glenwood but she already knows one thing she’s looking forward to.
“It may sound crazy but I’ve always wanted to live somewhere it snows in the winter,” said McCormick who last saw snow while a student in Jerusalem. “I have lived where it snows a little but I do look forward to it. Now I don’t really want the kind of winter you had here last winter, but a little dusting of snow would be good.”