IVH to close Heinz Hall

Residents will move to the Sheeler Building

HeinzHallWEB

Iowa Veterans Home officials announced earlier this week they plan to close Heinz Hall — a residential hall — by September 2018.

Constructed in 1900, Heinz Hall is the oldest building on the 150- acre campus, and opened 12 years after IVH accepted its first resident in December, 1888.

Commandant Timon Oujiri said he personally made the announcement on Wednesday to Heinz Hall residents.

“Heinz Hall has been in discussion for a number of years,” said Oujiri. “All of the residents will be moving over to the Sheeler Building. We are currently updating, renovating and making a number of changes in Sheeler to accommodate them.”

Sheeler does not house residents. It has been used exclusively as an administration building for many years.

However, Oujiri said the move will make it easier for the former Heinz Hall residents to partake in campus activities.

“The will be much closer to all of the activities and facilities,” Oujiri said. With the move, the residents will be more a part of IVH and not off on the edge like they are now in Heinz Hall. It is all about them. They will be closer to the (medical and dental) clinics, activities and etc.”

When asked what will happen to Heinz Hall, Oujiri said “it was under discussion. We are not 100 percent sure what will happen to Heinz Hall.”

The Times-Republican inquired about the decision after some residents told the T-R they were concerned about being moved from their individual, one-to-a person room at Heinz to a new arrangement of sharing a room with another resident in the new location at Sheeler.

“We are losing a great deal of privacy because we will be double-bunked,” said one Heinz Hall resident who asked his name not be used. “The individual space will be reduced too … We have big rooms here (at Heinz).”

“There are partitions in the (Sheeler) rooms,” said Oujiri, who was appointed by former Gov. Terry Branstad in May. Oujiri emphasized the September, 2018 Heinz Hall closing date was an estimate only.

State Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said he has scheduled a town hall meeting with Heinz Hall residents at 10 a.m. Nov. 28, to hear their concerns.

“Commandant Oujiri did tell me briefly on Veterans Day about this plan,” Smith said. “The concern I expressed to the commandant, is that I did not want to see a reduction in the number of licensed beds for residential care for what IVH currently has.”

Oujiri, a veteran, had worked at Hy-Vee Inc., helping the Iowa-based company hire fellow veterans before receiving the IVH appointment.

An estimated 15,000 veterans have been served at the facility since it opened nearly 129-years ago.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com